Sri Lankans urged to fight for right to information

July 15, 2009 (LBO) – An Indian political activist has urged Sri Lankans to be more demanding of their right to information, saying that was how the public in India won greater access to information and more government accountability. “The right to information campaign started with a peasant movement asking for the Panchayati (village assembly) records,” Aruna Roy, a renowned Indian social and political activist and a former Noble Prize for peace nominee said.

The public outcry and a 40-day strike in the state of Rajasthan led to India’s highly bureaucratic government sector, shielding information from its citizens, finally opening up.

A public administration system entangled in red tape has now become more transparent and accountable.

“People thought we were crazy when we asked for information,” Roy said. “They said you should be asking for food, medicine and shelter.”

Roy was addressing a group of journalist at a media conference organized by the Sri Lanka Press Institute and Editors Guild of Sri Lanka, ahead of the tenth annual journalism awards ceremony.

Roy said most public officials close access to information to cover up administrative weaknesses and corruption charges.

Being accountable in p