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Right To Information Portal
A Brief explainer on what the Right to Information (RTI) Portal is and why we built it.
Right to Information, also known as freedom of information, or right of access to information, is first and foremost a human right!
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights | UNEveryone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Right to Information is a right also afforded to everyone in the Maldives via the constitution.
Article 29 - Freedom of Aquiring and Imparting Knowledge | Constitution of the Maldives.Everyone has the freedom to acquire and impart knowledge, information and learning.
How this right can be exercised is outlined in legislation passed in 2014
- Taking into consideration the power the Right to Information Act provides, the number of people using the RTI mechanism is still very limited.
- Information disclosed through requests for information are treated as secret, even when everybody has a right to it. As a result, multiple people may end up requesting the same information, with no knowledge about each other, leading to time being wasted for institutions and information seekers alike. This also prevents information seekers from refining their requests based on information that has already been disclosed, resulting in duplication of work and wastage of resources
- No power in the masses for collective pressure to disclose information. Currently happens in own bubbles, media doesn't share information with other media, and nor do individuals share information with other individuals.
- Information Officers do not get paid additionally for the extra workload, therefore a lot of IOs do not take the responsibility seriously, while the ones that do take it seriously do not get compensated for the extra workload. Especially taxing on IOs that work for ministries that have multiple projects in the pipeline but do not disclose any of the crucial project-related information.
- Some information officers are unaware of the power that they wield as the information officer and are also scared to act on those powers due to a manufactured fear of authority and civil service.
- No way to anonymously send RTI Requests. - This limits the RTI mechanism function as a safe tool for transparency and whistleblowing.
- Having your name exposed sometimes can cause institutions to take things personally especially if you are working to blow the whistle on corruption or malpractices.
- Also sometimes the responses are manufactured to suit the person asking the questions when in fact the spirit of the RTI act is towards proper explanations to queries posed to institutions via the RTI Mechanism.
- Institutions that are mandated to publish data also do not publish their data. (In some cases they don't actually properly maintain the data either) Usually blaming poor IT support or NO IT support to maintain or update their websites.