On the occasion of the International Day for Universal Access to Information,
AMAN reiterates its demand that the government expedite the adoption of a law on the right of access to information
Ramallah – On the occasion of the International Day for Universal Access to Information, which falls on 28 September of every year, the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) stresses the importance of making information available to citizens by implementing the principles of transparency. The government and public institutions need to publish decisions, information, measures, and policies, contributing to building mutual trust between citizens and state institutions.
AMAN is of the view that providing the right of access to information promotes the values of integrity and lays the foundation for the principles of transparency. The right of access to information is highlighted by National Policy 10 (Strengthening Integrity, Accountability, Transparency and Fight against Corruption) of the National Development Plan 2021-2023, adopted by the government. As a bedrock requirement under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, access to information is a prerequisite for the government accession to the Open Government Partnership initiative. It is also a key indicator of the Palestinian government’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the Sustainable Development Goal Target 16.10: ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
Repeated attempts were made to compile a Law on the Right of Access to Information. Consultations were also conducted by former governments in partnership with civil society organisations and Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission. However, the current government has suspended discussions and refrained from approving and referring the draft law to the President for promulgation. The draft law is still sitting on the shelf at the Council of Ministers.
Enactment of the Law on the Right to Access to Information empowers society to participate in the decision making process. By allowing access to information, the law provides a tool that enables society to exercise the right to accountability for public administration and management of public finances, particularly in relation to basic services, including health, education, work, employment, land, judiciary, and state resources and spending. The law will also favourably impact aspects of legal activity and service provision in society, such as telecommunications, water and power supplies, right to freedom of expression, and freedom of the press.
Putting in effect the Law on the Right of Access to Information is contingent on the approval and enactment of the National Archive Law, which ensures proper law enforcement. The National Archive Law provides for classifying information according to specific criteria and controls, developing a solid, reliable, user-friendly, and electronically archived database, and providing easy access to information both for researchers and for information management agencies.
Against this background, AMAN calls on public officials to embrace public openness by putting in place the principles of transparency as well as ensuring the public right to access information and take part in the decision making process on public administration. Any officials who do not comply with this principle will be held to account. Expedited action will be taken to approve and pass the Law on the Right of Access to Information in consistence with the best practices to respect and protect this right from abuse.
AMAN confirms that it will continue with its tireless efforts and work with all partners, members of the legal community, and civil society actors to lobby and advocate for approving and promulgating the Law on the Right of Access to Information. These efforts are a culmination of 17 years of a national pursuit undertaken by relevant specialists in tandem with the best practices of promoting the right of access to information.