Overview

June was marked by the government’s continued obstruction to the presentation of a bill on the Freedom of Information (FoI). An Opposition MP presented it as a Private Members’ bill. Sri Lanka’s ruling party lawmakers defeated the tabled Right to Information bill with a majority of 63 votes. According to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, there were 93 absentees in parliament at the time of the vote. The UNP, the Democratic National Alliance and the Tamil National Alliance voted in favour of the bill.

Freedom of Information

When the 2004 draft bill on the subject was endorsed by both major parties, the general assumption was Sri Lanka would be among the first South Asian countries to pass such progressive legislation. Former Minister of Constitutional Affairs, presently the Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L. Peiris in 2005 stressed in a statement to Parliament that, “in theory there is no reason why it should not be adopted.”

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