Freedom Forum observed the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) by organizing various campaigns and participating in the public forums on September 28. The IDUAI was proclaimed by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2015 and it was formally recognized by United Nations General Assembly in 2019.
This year too, the IDUAI was celebrated organizing various campaigns, dialogues, and seminars worldwide under the theme of ‘importance of the online space for access to information’.
In Nepal, Freedom Forum and other civil society organizations joined the National Information Commission to mark the day. Freedom Forum prepared a podcast entitled- ‘current status of implementation of Right to Information (RTI) in Nepal, its challenges and way forward’. In the podcast, RTI experts and activists Sanjeeb Ghimire, Krishna Sapkota and Aditya Dahal discussed legal status of the RTI implementation in Nepal. Activist Dahal shared his experience that a public office filed court case against him for seeking information however, the court issued decision in favour of Dahal.
Similarly, RTI experts Ghimire and Sapkota argued the current legal approach towards RTI implementation is not enough and existing RTI Act 2007 needs to be amended. They also shared that majority government offices do not update related information periodically on their website as stated in the Act.
They also highlighted the importance of proactive disclosure among public bodies to build informed citizenry. Sapkota, who is also an expert on open data, claimed that there is no appropriate disaggregated data on status of implementation of RTI in Nepal despite passage of 16 years since its commencement. Hence, lack of disaggregated data is the biggest challenge in RTI regime.
The podcast is available in Freedom Forum’s website(https://freedomforum.org.np/podcast/) and can be accessed through podcast apps.
Moreover, FF also secured its participation in the RTI National Conference held in Kathmandu where its General Secretary Sanjeeb Ghimire presented a paper, ‘Proactive Disclosure Practices in Public Bodies and Challenges of Information Management and moderated a panel discussion.
Sapkota and Dahal also participated in a national conference, ‘Online Space and Right to Information: Opportunities and Challenges’- organized by the National Information Commission. In the program, NIC also released its two publications: A manual for Information seekers and a manual for public bodies.
Throughout the day FF engaged in a social media campaign to raise awareness on the importance of RTI and its application in our daily lives. The RTI related placards, were sported and posted on social media along with FF publications.