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Commission formed to implement Right To Information Act

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

Vienna, 28 May 2008

IPI Welcomes the Formation of Nepal's National Information Commission

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, joins IPI's Nepal Chapter in welcoming the formation of the National Information Commission pursuant to Nepal's Right to Information (RTI) Act, ratified by the country's interim Legislature-Parliament in July of 2007.

The Commission's mandate is to implement the RTI Act, which guarantees access to information to all Nepalese citizens. Amongst other things, the Act obliges public officers to provide the public with accurate information, and provides for punitive measures in cases of defiance. It also ensures protection to whistle blowers.

Nepal's RTI campaign dates back to 1990, when democracy was restored in the country and the Constitution recognized freedom of information as a fundamental right. However, the constitutional guarantee had little meaning due to the lack of legislation implementing the right. Even since the passage of the RTI Act, the absence of an authoritative body with enforcement powers has limited the legislation's effect.

The RTI Act, which describes the Commission's functions, duties and powers, provides that the Commission shall, inter alia, review records of public importance held by public agencies, order the maintenance of lists containing information regarding agency records, specify timeframes for responding to information requests, and submit recommendations to the government regarding the protection of the right to information.

"We join our National Committee in Nepal in welcoming the establishment of the National Information Commission, and hope that it will work to ensure that access to information finally becomes a tangible right for Nepal's citizens," commented IPI Director David Dadge.

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