How not to get killed as an RTI activist

One of my professors at IRMA used to say to us: 

“if you are doing something that really matters, you will know, because someone (or many) will oppose you strongly…” 

When I was more naive idealistic, I used to imagine myself working in the hinterlands somewhere, in the centre of serious conflict due to the nature of my work. Unfortunately, these days I am in Ghana, rather safe, working mostly from my air-conditioned office…


In recent years, serious rights-activists in India seem to have found a way to do stuff that really matters – look at reports of murders and attacks on RTI activists…they must be doing something right; something that hits the powerful and the corrupt where it really hurts. While we wait for new laws to protect those trying to actually use old laws, here is some practical advice for these activists, aptly titled “How to file RTI plea (without getting killed)”. Excerpts below…

Disseminate the information: As soon as you receive sensitive information through the RTI Act, spread it among others. More people having the information reduces the threat risk to an individual. 

Multiple applications on one issue: It is always better if many people file RTI queries asking for the same set of information. If the applicants are geographically spread across the country, it is even better. 

Target the system, not individuals: If you are able to expose irregularities in the system, the officials involved will be held responsible by default. Before filing the application, try to search for a group of activists/applicants working on the cause which you want to take up. If possible, file the application on behalf of that group. 

Do not use the act as a blackmailing tool. The objective is of the act is to bring transparency in the government functioning and not to blackmail someone. 

Be polite while interacting with the public information officers. They are just part of the big system.  

h/t: Accountability Initiative, once again…

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One thought on “How not to get killed as an RTI activist

  1. How true. If I only had a nickel for each death threat I've received over my work to expose the inadequacies of the business correspondent regulation. 🙂

    Love the posts on India but how about a post on Ghana or two?

    Doug

    Like

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