JANUARY 29, 2009 Freedom Forum comes to know that the government has decided to classify general information related to every Ministry and government bodies without maintaining due process and transparency which has apparently relegated the letter and spirit of Right to Information (RTI) Act to the backburner. According to article 27 of Right to Information (RTI) Act, there shall be a three-member committee comprising government chief secretary (Chairperson), relevant Ministry secretary (Member) and expert of concerned subject (Member) to classify the information at policy level for the protection of information related to subsection (3) of section (3).
It deserves the right only to classify exceptional information in a particular way but not all the general information. But the government, without keeping with this legal provision, informed the National Information Commission (NIC) about the classification without fulfilling the process.
Such decision and practice apparently promote the culture of hiding information instead of inspiring to cultivate proactive disclosure of information. It intends to prevent people from exercising right to information in Nepal.
It is quite objectionable development that does not only contravene with the Act but also underestimates the thrust of empowering people and democracy through strengthening freedom of information.
In this context, the NIC, which only deserves right to review the classification of information, has remained tightlipped to the development of situation in connection with classification of information.
Freedom Forum urged the government to immediately make public the decision regarding the classification of information, to annul the illegal decision and to keep up the spirit of ACT. At the same time, we also asked NIC to take initiative to his effect and reminded the body that Freedom Forum would be ready to extend necessary cooperation in the fight to ensure effective implementation of RTI.
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