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Transparency Maldives organized a symposium on Right to Information with international speakers and panelists as part of a project funded by UNDEF in partnership with UNDP Maldives on 23 October 2012. The specific objectives of the symposium were to: promote RTI as a tool to advance democracy; facilitate sharing of experiences and international best practices; and create demand and culture a deeper appreciation for RTI.

 

The Symposium was attended by President’s Office, state ministers, senior government officials, members of Human Rights Commission, Anti Corruption Commission and Elections Commission, Maldives Police Service, Police Integrity Commission, Prosecutor Generals Office, UNDP, Maldives Post Limited, Maldives Customs Service, Local Government Authority and representatives from the civil society and media.

 

The closing ceremony was attended by Hon Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who made a commitment to contribute to expediting the process of passage of the RTI Bill currently at the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament.

 

Team of Experts

 

intenational_speakersInternational experts from leading organizations on RTI, including the Open Society Justice Initiative (US), Open Democracy Advice Center (South Africa), Center for Law and Democracy (Canada), Central Information Commission of India (former) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (India).

 

1. Ms. Sandra Colliver, Senior Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative.

2. Mr. Mukelani Dimba, Deputy Executive Director, Open Democracy Advice Centre, South Africa.

3. Mr. Michael Karanicolas, Legal Officer Centre of Law and Democracy.

4. Mr. Sailesh Gandi, former Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, India

5. Mr. Venkatesh Nayak, Program Coordinator, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India

6. Uz. Mohamed Anil, Chairperson, Democracy House, Maldives

 

Sessions conducted at the symposium

 

The following sessions were conducted at the symposium.

  1. Right to Information and Democracy – history of RTI, importance of RTI in democratic governance and history of RTI in Maldives.
  2. Administering an RTI regime – practical aspect of administering an RTI regime, appeal processes, redress mechanisms, archiving and challenges faced.
  3. Local governance and RTI – importance of building relationship between democratic participatory governance and the role of RTI in local governance and how it can empower rural and vulnerable communities.
  4. Proactive Disclosure was the last session and we looked at its features in a good RTI regime and speakers discussed about creating a culture of proactively disclosing information across the state.
  5. In the closing session the speakers shared Success Stories from across the world.

Transparency Maldives is preparing a report on the symposium, which would include papers from the international speakers on different aspects of RTI, the discussions in the symposium and a list of resources that the participants can access to further their knowledge on RTI. The report will be shared with all the participants and will also be made available to the larger public.


In the past 12 months Transparency Maldives has contacted 560 migrant workers, many of those with ongoing cases. Their main complaints include withholding of passports and documents preventing workers from travelling, poor living conditions and delay or non-payment of wages.

Living quarters for expatriate workers in Male’ -the most densely populated capital in the world with an estimated 140,000 people living in 2 square kilometers – are very cramped. It is the norm for 50 plus migrant workers to sleep in 8 hour shifts, in 20×10 ft spaces. 


International Right to Know day on 28th September 2012 at the Maldives National University

 

International Right to Know day on 28th September 2012, at the Maldives National University.

 

Transparency Maldives organized a panel discussion on promoting access to information to mark the International Right to Know day on 28th September 2012, at the Maldives National University (MNU).

 

The panelists covered the relationship between freedom of information and democracy; public participation, good governance; and between right to information and corruption in their presentations. The panelists also highlighted the shortcomings in the current RTI legal framework and looked at the features of an ideal RTI regime.

 

The panelists were:

Mr. Muaviz Rasheed, Vice President of the Anti Corruption Commission.

Uz. Mohamed Anil, Chairperson of Democracy House.

Mr. Aiman Rasheed, Advocacy Manager of Transparency Maldives.

 

The event was recorded and aired on TVM and Raajje TV.


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On April 18th, Transparency Maldives, in association with the Student Union of Faculty of Shari’ah and Law at the Maldives National University, held an open discussion forum on Money in politics. More than 40 law students participated in the discussion, held at the University. The discussion was part of an ongoing event-series named Legal Talks organized by the Student Union that brings together law students for debate and dialogue on various issues of pertinence.

 

Transparency Maldives collaborated with the Student Union in an effort to broaden its outreach to the general public and advocate for reform in the area of political financing, through grassroots demand. The current advocacy work is part of the Crinis Project, a research and advocacy project on political financing carried out by Transparency Maldives, with funding from the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Crinis Project was developed by Transparency International and the Carter Center in 2006-2007, and has been used as a diagnostic and advocacy tool on political financing in several countries across the globe.

 

Transparency Maldives conducted the research and published the report in January 2012 and can be download here.The report highlights areas for reforming the legal framework and practices associated with political financing and provides recommendations for stakeholders on improving transparency and accountability in this area.

 

The discussion forum at the University examined the dynamics between political financing, vested interests, and corruption; and gave way to a fruitful dialogue and commentary on this critical issue of political financing.