MAN marks International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI)

MAN marks International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI)

‘KATHMANDU-- Media Action Nepal(MAN),in collaboration with the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), organized an interaction program titled ‘Utilizing Right to Information tools to know whereabouts of the disappeared persons in Nepal’, to mark the International Day for Universal Access to Information that falls on September 28.

Speaking at the program, stakeholders said RTI can play a vital role to access the information about the actual situation of persons who were disappeared during 10-year long insurgency.

LaxmanDatt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal (MAN) said program is organized with a purpose of exploring ideas how conflict victims used RTI as a tool to find the whereabouts of disappeared people. “RTI could play a vital role to know about the status of persons who were disappeared during the conflict,” Pant said.

Chief Commissioner of National Information Commission (NIC) Krishna Hari Banskota informed about the provisions of Right to Information Act that could be used to obtain information from government agencies.

ICRC Nepal head Andre Paquet said ICRC and Nepal Red Cross have worked with the concerned families and have advocated to ensure the authorities make all possible efforts to provide answers on the fate and whereabouts of missing people.

“As per ICRC records, 3,248 missing persons were reported to the ICRC and Nepal Red-Cross. Overtime, the list has reduced and a new publication contains 1333 persons, who are still missing from the conflict time,” said Paquet.

SumanAdhikari of CVCP said discussions on how RTI could be used to know about the whereabouts of disappeared people is very useful. He said NIC and other government agencies should be serious about imparting the information concerning the progress made so far to deal with war-era issues.

Chairman of NEFAD Ram Bhandari said state mechanisms are not serious to address the problems of conflict victims. “People disappeared during conflict are from marginalizedcommunity and their families are yet to know the whereabouts of their relatives,” Bhandari said, “We are repeatedly asking to make the actual position clear but our voices are not heeded.”

Chief Editor of Republica Daily SubhashGhimireunderlined the need of maintaining transparency while investigating the war-era human rights violations. “To be honest, RTI tool has not been effective for the media. We could conduct investigation through our reporters,” said Ghimire.

Participants in the program urged the concerned agencies to proactively disclose the information concerning the progress made by Truth and Reconciliation and Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons.