India has ranked fourth in a worldwide comparative assessment of national legal frameworks for right to information (Global Right To Information Rating), slipping a rank as Mexico replaced Serbia to head the list of 112 countries this year and pushed each of last year’s top five countries a notch lower.
Sri Lanka, at ninth spot, is the only other South Asian country to figure among top ten nations in the ratings released on Wednesday to mark International Day for Universal Access to Information.
Mexico scored 136 points, edging past Serbia, which ended up with 135 points. RTI experts said India slipped one rank this year not because of its own performance but because of Mexico’s surge. Mexico has recently revamped General Act of Transparency and Access to Public Information and has outranked Serbia. This is why India has slipped a rank
All countries in South Asia, barring Pakistan, scored more than 100 points. Pakistan remains at 89th spot. As per the ratings, Arab countries are among the world’s weakest on this important human rights indicator, with only four of the 22 member states of the Arab League – Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen – having RTI laws.
Hereby, the popular myth ‘RTI is meant for developed countries while developing countries have other urgent issues of poverty, hunger, poor levels of basic services like education and health’ stands disproved once again.
About Global Right to Information Rating
The Global Right to Information Rating is a programme which comparatively assesses the strength of legal frameworks for the right to information from around the world. At the heart of the methodology for applying the RTI Rating are 61 Indicators. For each Indicator, countries earn points within a set range of scores (in most cases 0-2), depending on how well the legal framework delivers the Indicator, for a possible total of 150 points. The indicators are divided into seven different categories, namely: Right of Access, Scope, Requesting Procedures, Exceptions and Refusals, Appeals, Sanctions and Protections, and Promotional Measures.
It important to note that the RTI Rating is limited to measuring the legal framework, and does not measure quality of implementation. In some cases, countries with relatively weak laws may nonetheless be very open, due to positive implementation efforts, while even relatively strong laws cannot ensure openness if they are not implemented properly. Regardless of these outlying cases, over time a strong access to information law can contribute to advancing openness and help those using it to defend and promote the right of access to information. It is also important to note that, while openness extends to factors beyond the legal framework for RTI, a strong legal framework is an important pre-requisite to full implementation of the right to information.