Getting ready for RTI: Information Officers, Civil Society, and the general public

There have been 1500 appointments of Information Officers made up to date with another four to five thousand still pending, stated Government Information Director Ranga Kalansooriya. The present appointments have been made in all the government departments and the outstanding appointments are for other public authorities.
Diverse efforts have been made in the months after the passing of the RTI Bill to prepare the country for enactment in 2017. The Ministry of Mass Media has begun training sessions for trainers from around the country in order to decentralize the weight of information sharing, partnering with Divisional Secretariats. Independent organizations such as the Centre for Investigative Journalism and Transparency International have also begun workshops and launched information portals to increase awareness on RTI usage and application.

 

However, a brief street opinion poll demonstrated limited awareness amongst the public in Colombo about RTI. Indian RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak stressed the importance of public agitation around RTI: ‘All other laws, the government has to take the initiative, be it tax laws, be it penal laws, be it regulatory laws. But this [RTI] is one law which is of an empowering nature… This law is only going to get implemented if people make information requests. So therefore there is an urgent need to spread awareness about this law across the citizenry in Sri Lanka.’