In a bid to discuss the ways to challenge the government’s recent act of classifying information
against the spirit of the Right to Information Act-2007, freedom1 Forum organized a stakeholders’
meeting in the capital city, Kathmandu, on January 27, 2012 bringing together around 75 individuals representing civil society, human rights, media and legal sector.Almost all speakers in the discussion censured the government classification terming it an attempt to conceal information in the name of protecting information.
freedom1 Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal welcomed the participants and provided background information about the government move and claimed that the classification of information by the government was faulty and rendered the right to information act meaningless. Chairperson Dahal said method of classification of information has suppressed the overriding principle of the RTI act thereby curtailing people’s right to information.
Other speakers including chairperson of the FNJ, former chairpersons, advocates, rights defenders, legal practitioners, commissioner and Chief Commissioner of the National Information Commission underscored that the government move was against the interim constitution and RTI Act. Both public awareness including the RTI education to government administration and legal recourse could be adopted to revitalize the suppressed RTI spirit, they stressed.
Moreover, the speakers were univocal that the classification was ill-intended because if could conceal the information in a way that promote corruption and arbitrary administrative highhanded in spite of respecting judiciary.
At the time the RTI regime was gradually gaining ground, the classification of information has nipped in the bud the spirit and goal of the RTI, they said, laying emphasis on the piling pressure on the government to immediately withdraw the information classification which has direct bearing on the people’s right to information.
Politically vested interest was behind the classification of the information, they argued, urging government to roll back it immediately.
A three member committee headed by Chief Secretary of Nepal Government recently classified the information with ill-intention of concealing information held by public agencies particularly the government. It has drawn flak from various quarters of life accusing the move of suppressing civil rights to access to information, which a democratic state must have.