Right to information

The right to information is included in the Sustainable Development Goals for each country to aim for to achieve development. The right to information includes a number of principles:

  1. Presumption of disclosure – the government must disclose everything except in very limited exceptions
  2. Proactive disclosure – the government must actively disclose information regardless of whether they are asked
  3. Promote openness - the government must change its policies and practices to create a culture of openness and ending government secrecy, this includes access to the meetings of public bodies
  4. Limited exceptions –the government must define only very limited exceptions to access to information according to the principle of ‘harm’, and there should be a public interest test
  5. Fast and fair processes – the government should answer any requests for information in a fast and fair way, and there should be a mechanism for appeals.
  6. Cheap processes – the government should ensure that people are not dissuaded from asking for information because of high costs
  7. Disclosure takes precedence – the government should amend any laws that contradict disclosure, and the courts should interpret the laws with disclosure taking precedence
  8. Protect whistleblowers – the government should protect whistleblowers who release information about wrongdoing and corruption.

A right to information law is the best way to make sure these principles are followed by government. But a government can also begin to implement many of these principles while making a law. For example, the government can promote a culture of openness inside, and can easily begin to proactively disclose information.

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Right to information in Myanmar law