On Tuesday, RTI Forum Bangladesh called upon the government to form a research group engaging academics, practitioners and activists.
The aim is to enhance research collaboration on access to information both at national and international levels.
A decade after passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, it is now more critical than ever to boost the RTI knowledge base to promote accountable governance in the country through effective implementation of Act.
Speakers made the statement during a webinar organised by RTI Forum Bangladesh to mark the Right to Know Day, globally observed on September 28 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information by the UN.
Manusher Jonno Foundation Director (Knowledge Management) Dr Rezwan-ul-Alam presented the findings of "Review of RTI Research Works during 2019-2020" during the event.
According to a statement, the review found that 15 pieces of research work, including a study, survey, assessment, journal article and conference paper were produced during 2019-2020 on the issue.
It was revealed that research interests on the RTI Act and its implementation are limited to a few non-governmental organizations (NGO) and individuals.
The recommendations of the review included strengthening research and strategic communication capacities of the Information Commission; compiling learning, best practices and case studies of the past decade, and collaborating with universities to undertake joint-research work.
Chief Information Commissioner Martuza Ahmed committed to examine some of the recommendations made during the presentation.
He stressed on the importance of ensuring the free flow of information during an emergency like Covid-19 and suggested that civil society organizations and RTI activists should make a concerted effort to motivate and inspire people for the effective application of the RTI Act throughout the country.
Research Initiatives Bangladesh Executive Director, Dr Meghna Guhathakurta said RTI application can be also used as a means of collecting research information on different development issues.
Management and Resource Development Initiative Executive Director, Hasibur Rahman, spoke about developing an archive of RTI manuals produced by NGOs.
Nijera Kori Secretary, Khushi Kabir, observed that the rate of RTI application filings has significantly dropped during the Covid-19 period.
Former Chief Information Commissioner, Professor Golam Rahman, called for introspection, while taking stock of the RTI situation in the country.
He also urged the government to include information-providing services as emergency services during crises like Covid-19.
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication Chief Executive Officer, AHM Bazlur Rahman, urged the government to involve NGOs working on RTI issues in Covid-19-centric health campaigns.
Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director and RTI Forum Convenor, Shaheen Anam moderated the event and urged all to break the culture of impunity, which, in turn, has fostered a culture of fear amongst people, thereby preventing the effective implementation of the true spirit of the RTI Act.