Rights group pushes for freedom of information law

The Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI) will hold talks on a possible freedom of information law, it says.

Representatives from civil society organisations, NGOs, lawmakers and the public would participate in the talks, the group announced.

“We have classified three steps for a public right to information law. The first one is the emergence of talks, knowledge dissemination and the government’s awareness. We have a plan to hold two workshops in February and one in March,” said Htin Kyaw Aye, assistant director from the OMI.

The 1923 Burma State Official Secrets Act, 1923 Evidence Act and 2014 Electronic Transactions Law restrict access to information. The Evidence Act should be amended as it did not describe the exact rights to information and the government’s release of information, he said.

“It is certain that the current government will not issue information. What the government does let us know is by press release only. And the government has kept back all the information. So it cannot be assumed that the government’s press releases are genuine ‘information’. It shows that the government has no transparency. The army is secretive for security reasons. But I think there should be greater transparency in the army-owned businesses,” he added.

The OMI has already prepared a paper on the proposed rights to information law.