All websites need to be made disabled-friendly to ensure information access to all, says the TIB chief
Government institutions are more likely to make information public and abide by the Right to Information Act (RTI) than private organizations including local and international NGOs, says a recent study.
On Thursday, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) disclosed the findings of the study on the Right to Information Act (RTI) at a virtual media call.
The study was conducted on the ministries, government departments, their affiliated organizations, statutory organizations, public companies, trust funds, or foundations initiated by the government and NGOs operational across the country.
Of them, 37% of government organizations received satisfactory scores for assisting the general people with access to information.
According to TIB, the Ministry of Food, Ministry of Textiles and Jute, and Ministry of Water Resource topped the list as they were “self-motivated.”
Whereas, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was found to be quite unwilling in providing information to the citizens by the study.
The TIB study also found that government organizations were most reluctant in revealing information related directly to their activities and decision making.
Meanwhile, the NGOs – selected for the study – were found lagging way behind as around 94.9% of them fell under the “alarming” category for not revealing any information whatsoever to the public.
Of them, Qatar Charity, Relief International, and Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) were jointly named as the worst organizations for providing the least amount of information to the citizens.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, addressing the online event, said: “The findings are quite surprising. The Right to Information Act (RTI) was passed because of the strict position, dialogues, and advocacy campaigns led by private organizations. Now they themselves are lagging behind in the practice.
“As representatives of private organizations, it’s really unfortunate for us.”
“Although government agencies have performed well in the study, they still have a lot of room for improvement. Especially regarding the scope and utility of the information that is being made public,” he added.
As per the study, most top officials, of both government and private organizations, are not fully aware of the Right to Information Act (RTI); despite having legal obligations many government organizations do not reveal any information related to human rights violation and corruption, and only 0.7% government websites are disabled-friendly.
Websites run by NGOs fared better than government ones in this regard.
TIB recommended making the websites disabled-friendly by introducing a voice activation system; keep a specific section of the website reserved for questions and complaints; take necessary steps to identify the sectors which need more public info to make information more accessible to the public.