Marginalization of Civil Society in Sri Lanka leads to suppression of liberty

Marginalization of Civil Society in Sri Lanka leads to suppression of liberty

“Lack of space for civil society in Sri Lanka has curtailed liberty for civil society to challenge the malpractices in the post-war period” J.C.Weliamuna, Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said in Bangkok yesterday. He was addressing Transparency International’s Asia Pacific Chapter meeting.

The 18th amendment the Constitution has consolidated power of the Executive politicizing important state institutions and making them weak. Regulatory bodies have become the voice of political masters.

Representatives from 21 chapters and four chapters in formation of the Asia Pacific Region participated at the meeting, which is a key event at TI’s Annual Membership meeting, which is being held in Bangkok this year.

Speaking further, Mr Weliamuna said that limited organizations working in the Anti-corruption sphere, the absence of a Right to Information Act, suppression of media freedom and the voice of dissent are among other obstacles in Sri Lanka at present.

S. Bawa Chairperson of TI India said that the ‘ Integrity Pact’ between political parties and the villagers facilitated by TI India during the Bihar election, created a win-win situation for both parties as well as other stakeholders. The party candidates who had an Integrity Pact with the people won the election. This resulted in the people obtaining more services as promised by the political parties during the election.

This pact to ensure the political accountability has empowered disadvantaged people in India, he said. He pointed out that before it was introduced in the Bihar election, TI India had signed integrity pacts with the big institutions to improve corporate governance.

Ilham Mohomed of TI Maldives said that Maldives has dropped 57 positions in the Corruption Perception Index after 2007 as a result of many grand corruption deals being unearthed and there were allegations against the politicians and high ranking officials.

She said this is because there is wider awareness and the people are conscious of their rights.

Right to Information Act, Information Commission and a good start by the present government were positive trends in Bangladesh according to the Dr. Ifthikar Zaman Executive Director -TI Bangladesh. He further said the Chapter has developed a Citizen’s Charter in service delivery with the government institutions and have done many training programmes for public institutions on anti-corruption initiatives.

Chapter representatives of South East Asia, the Pacific and East Asia also spoke at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Pascal Fabie, Regional Director-Asia Pacific pointed out that state capture, excessive power of the Executive, lack of public accountability, ineffective bureaucracy, collusions and other corrupt business practices remain common shortcomings in many countries in the region.

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