Information institutions and the political accountability in Bangladesh

Hoque, Md Mahmudul (2018) Information institutions and the political accountability in Bangladesh. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 9 (2). pp. 1586-1596. ISSN 2229-5518

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Accountability of the elected leaders is one of the key factors in a representative democracy. Bangladesh restored a democratic ruling system in 1991 but has struggled to create an effective institutional mechanism to hold the political leaders before the citizens. Information has often been called the oxygen of democracy because of its power to bring accountability through transparency and public disclosure. With the boom of news media organisations and the emergence of the movement for the right to and freedom of information in the early 2000s, many argued that information institutions could build the mechanism for political accountability. On that background, Bangladesh enacted the Right to Information Act in 2009 and established a few key public information institutions including the Information Commission (IC) and Access to Information Programme hoping that the freedom of information would not only challenge the culture of secrecy and veil but also encourage the elected leaders to be answerable to the citizens. But did it really happen? Why? I looked for the answers in this study though the conceptual and analytical lens of freedom of information, proactive disclosure and accountability. For this study, I mainly used the data and cases gathered from secondary sources namely policy papers, reports, newspapers, journals, books and online spaces. I also utilised my own experience of working with a few state organisations. I analysed the current status of accountability mechanisms in Bangladesh focusing mainly on the political accountability (often called the vertical accountability). I also examined a few recent cases in order to understand the role of the information institutions in bringing the political accountability in the current fragile democracy in Bangladesh. Considering the poor democratic practices in the recent years, findings of this study suggest that the accountability of the political leaders has increased to a certain considerable extent. I argue that this is partly because of the increased transparency and proactive disclosure in the formal and informal institutional mechanisms, and mostly because of the leading active role of the mass media organisations. I conclude with the argument that despite having this increased transparency and freedom of information, this improved accountability is not sustainable without an effective democratic institutional mechanism.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Right to information, Freedom of information, Political Accountability, Information institutions
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 29 May 2020 07:40
Last Modified: 29 May 2020 07:45

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