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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) says that the initial efforts of the recently appointed Right to Information (RTI) Commission should be directed towards negotiations with the relevant State agencies to ensure that they are provided with the necessary resources for their work.

“This is done so that they can do their work and deliver their services”, Director of Policy and Programmes at the AHRC, Basil Fernando said.

Attorneys-at-Law, Somapala G. Punchihewa and Kishali Pinto Jayawardena along with Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public and International Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo, Naganathan Selvakumaran and former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Saleem Marsoof were appointed as Members of the Right to Information Commission while former Labour Ministry Secretary Mahinda Gammanpila was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission.

Fernando observed that the country faced issues pertaining to obsessive secrecy in the government.

He called for continuous vigilance on the part of the public to be observant in identifying pressure tactics such as institutionalised politicization at the hands of the political leadership plus judges, lawyers and others with vested interests in relation to political and personal agendas pertaining to the Commission and its Commissioners.

“The RTI law now confronts the challenge that all progressive laws have to face, which is implementation. Even regarding the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, there are many complaints about implementation including the non-provision of sufficient resources to the independent Commissions such as the Election Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the National Police Commission established under its provisions,” Fernando said.

“The payment of allowances for Commissioners must be looked into. In the systemic and accountable administration of justice, Commissions must be properly provided for. This includes material and human resources and support from the State. Otherwise, such institutions could lapse into inefficacy,” he explained.
RLJ