Speakers at a workshop yesterday stressed the need for applying the Right to Information (RTI) Act to get required information about candidates and other aspects regarding the upcoming parliamentary election.

They also said the country's political parties need to be brought under the act for access to information and to make the government and the parties accountable and transparent.

The Hunger Project (THP) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) jointly arranged the workshop on “Use of RTI in Journalism” at The Daily Star Centre in Dhaka, where about 20 journalists from print, electronic and online news outlets participated.

Welcoming the participants, Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, country director and global vice-president of THP, said the RTI Act can be a strong tool to get all kinds of information during elections, while accountability of persons and institutions can also be ensured by applying it.

“Once its use increases, the tendency of 'keeping secrets' will reduce,” said Badiul, also a noted governance campaigner.

He said use of the RTI Act will be helpful to make the democratic process flawless and electoral system effective.

Nilesh Ekka, senior research analyst at Association for Democratic Reforms in India, said a similar act in his country has helped people and journalists get more information about candidates during different elections.

Stressing the need for increased use of the law, journalist Pranab Saha said the practice of its application is higher among journalists in other parts of the country than those who are Dhaka-based.

Venkatesh Nayak, coordinator of Access to Information Programme of CHRI, said making electoral system transparent is a prerequisite and first step for ensuring good democratic practice.

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