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Sri Lankan Lawmakers Approve Right to Info Bill


A man reads a newspaper with news on a bill introduced to Parliament by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on right to information, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 24, 2016.

A man reads a newspaper with news on a bill introduced to Parliament by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on right to information, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 24, 2016.

Lawmakers in Sri Lanka unanimously passed the Right to Information bill, which is aimed at restoring transparency and good governance in a country plagued by corruption and misrule.

Sri Lankan deputies in the 225-member parliament approved the bill Friday without calling for a vote after two days of debate.

The new law gives citizens access to public information except personal data, national security information, financial and commercial policy decisions, intellectual property and medical reports.

The law stipulates that information would be withheld, if its release were deemed to violate parliamentary privileges.

A five-member Right to Information Commission will monitor and ensure compliance and will have powers to hold inquiries and hear appeals.

During last year’s presidential campaign President Maithripala Sirisena promised the new law, since Sri Lanka has had a long history of official secrecy.

The bill was originally introduced in 1996, but was delayed by successive governments citing national security issues, while Sri Lanka was at war with Tamil rebels until 2009.

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