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Sri Lanka: Right to Information Act to Be Implemented

(Jan. 6, 2017) Sri Lanka’s Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media, Gayantha Karunathilaka, recently announced that arrangements have been made to implement the country’s 2016 Right to Information Act.  The Act will come into force on February 4, 2017, and a central Information Officer will be appointed to provide information services to every state office.  (Sri Lanka to Implement Right to Information Act from Next Month, COLOMBO PAGE (Jan. 2, 2017); Constance Johnson, Sri Lanka: Right to Information Legislation Considered, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 28, 2016); Right to Information Act, No. 12 of 2016 (Aug. 4, 2106), GAZETTE OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA, Pt. II, Supplement (Aug. 5, 2016), Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms & Mass Media website.)

Adopting a law on the right to information had been a part of the government’s 2016 agenda.  (Sri Lanka to Implement Right to Information Act from Next Month, supra.)  The Act provides for a “right of access to information” under which citizens can obtain data in the “possession, custody or control of a public authority.”  (Press Release, Parliament of Sri Lanka, “Right to Information” Bill Passed (June 24, 2016).)  The requirements of the Act apply to national and local authorities of all types and to non-governmental organizations if they are primarily funded by the government.  In addition, these institutions must maintain records of their activities, in electronic form if possible.  Public agencies will be expected to appoint their own information officers to handle direct requests from the public.  (Id.)