Dhaka 29 September 2020: RTI Forum Bangladesh today urged the government to form research group involving academics, practitioners and activists to enhance research collaboration on access to information issues both at national and international level.
‘After passing of one decade of Right to Information Act in Bangladesh, it is imperative that RTI knowledge-base is enhanced to promote accountable governance in the country through effective implementation of the Act’, speakers said during a webinar organized by RTI Forum Bangladesh.
The webinar was organized on the occasion of Right to Know Day, which was observed yesterday (28 September) globally as International Day for Universal Access to Information by the UN. Mr. Martuza Ahmed, Chief Information Commissioner of Information Commission graced the webinar as Chief Guest of the event while Professor Dr. Golam Rahman, Former CIC, Information Commission spoke as Special Guest.
Moderated by Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and Convenor of RTI Forum, among others who also spoke during the webinar are: Mr. Hasibur Rahman, Executive Director, MRDI; Mr. AHM Bazlur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, BNNRC; Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, COAST Trust; Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta, Executive Director, RIB; Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director, TIB; and Ms. Khushi Kabir, Secretary, Nijera Kori.
Dr. Rezwan-ul-Alam, Director, Knowledge Management of MJF presented the findings on Review of RTI Research Works during 2019-2020. It was found that a total of 15 research works, such as study, survey, assessment, journal article and conference papers were produced during 2019-2020. It was revealed that research interests on Right to Information Act and its implementation are limited to few NGOs and individual. Mostly funded by development partners, these studies, mostly in English language, covered a wide-ranging research topics, generally covering both supply and demand sides.
Recommendations included, among others, strengthening both research and strategic communication capacities of Information Commission, compilation of learning, best practices and case studies of the past decade and collaboration with universities to undertake joint-research works.
MRDI Executive Director Mr. Hasibur Rahman stressed on developing a depository of RTI manuals developed by NGOs. BNNRC CEO AHM Bazlur Rahman urged the government to involve NGOs working on RTI issues in the Covid-related health campaigns. COAST Trust Executive Director Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury emphasized on collaboration to share information for people living in the Rohingya camps. RIB Executive Director Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta said RTI application can also be used as a means of collecting research information on various development issues.
TI Bangladesh Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman urged all to work unitedly in the promotion of RTI, in spite of all constraints. Nijera Kori Secretary Khushi Kabir observed that the rate of filing RTI application has significantly dropped during Covid period.
Special Guest Professor Dr. Golam Rahman urged for introspection while taking stock of the RTI situation in the country. He also urged the Government to include information-providing services as emergency service during times of crises like Covid-19.
Chief Guest of the webinar Mr. Martuza Ahmed, Chief Information Commissioner assured to examine some recommendations made during the presentation. He stressed on ensuring free flow of information during emergency situation like Covid-19 and suggested CSOs and RTI activities to work more to motivate and inspire people for effectively using the RTI application throughout the country.
In her concluding remarks, MJF Executive Director Ms. Shaheen Anam urged all to break the culture of impunity, which has created a culture of fear among people, thus preventing effecting implementation of the true spirit of the RTI Act.