Correction by RTI Commission of Sri Lanka of Wrong Reference to the Commission in Sunday Leader article ‘Sri Lanka: Departments Under Law And Order Ministry Ignore Request Under RTI’
This is in reference to news item 16 on the list of news items in Sri Lanka Brief – http://srilankabrief.org/2017/06/sri-lanka-departments-under-law-and-order-ministry-ignore-request-under-rti/. The RTI Commission is kindly drawing your attention to the fact that the article in the Leader of June 25th, 2017 contained a number of factually inaccurate references regarding the Commission in regard to which a response was sent by the Commission which was published by the Sunday Leader in its issue of 2nd July 2017 (yesterday).
This article by Ms. Nirmala Kannangara (also carried by online media) had stated that the RTI Commission had not responded to Ms Kannangara’s email query sent to the Commission on lapses on the part of the Police Department in responding to RTI requests.
However, in direct contradiction to this claim, A D E Bernard, Coordinating Secretary to the Commission informed the Sunday Leader that he had responded to the email sent by Ms Kannangara (dated 28th April 2017) on 25th May 2017.
She had been informed that that an information officer had been appointed by the Department of the Police and had been further apprised that the Commission has been intervening with the nodal agency, the Ministry of Mass Media to ensure compliance by Public Authorities with the RTI Act, No 12 of 2016.
Furthermore, Ms. Kannangara was informed that her email cannot be accepted as an ‘appeal.’ The Commission is bound by Rule 13 (2) of the RTI Rules (Fees and Appeal Procedure) ( Gazette No. 2004/66, 03.02.2017) issued in terms of Section 42 of the RTI which states that appeals to the Commission may be made only through the medium of registered post or in person. This requirement has been clearly stated by the Commission in its Public Statements and clarified on its website: www.rticommission.lk.
Ms Kannangara was asked to resubmit her appeal in accordance with the Rules on Appeals as provided for. She was also informed that, if she wishes, any further clarification could be sought from the Commission through email or by phone.
The Commission has observed that it is surprising that her article referred to above contains no mention of this fact. The Commission has copied the response to the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) given that the SLPI is engaged in carrying out trainings for journalists on Sri Lanka’s RTI Act and to web media re-publishing the incorrect reference.
In its response, the RTI Commission has also noted that it is encouraging to see that many Public Authorities are complying with the RTI Act. However, it has pointed out that if any Public Authority is found culpable of wilfully disregarding the Act, the Commission will be acting directly in pursuance of its statutory powers, to the fullest extent of its authority.
I am instructed by the Commission to forward this to other online media also carrying this same factually inaccurate article.
for and behalf of the RTI Commission,
Administrative Officer/Coordinating Secretary
Right to Information Commission of Sri Lanka