Ramallah – The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) welcomed the efforts made by the Council of Ministers to approve the Draft Law on the Right of Access to Information, expressing optimism at this long-awaited step. According to AMAN, approval of the Law by decree is the key step and milestone for the efforts to enhance confidence between citizens and the government, promote the values of integrity, fight corruption, and establish the principles of transparency.
The announcement was made in the government session of Monday, 11 November 2019. The Law by Decree on the Right of Access to Information would be approved 16 years after the first draft had been deliberated by the Palestinian Legislative Council. Incessant calls had also been made by Palestinian civil society organisations to approve the law. In consistence with the principles of good governance, this legislative act will serve as a tool to empower civil society to exercise oversight and accountability for public financial management and public administration. Reflecting a Palestinian public demand, the Law by Decree is needed by researchers, students, journalists and media workers, civil society activists, and all persons interested in public affairs. The enactment will contribute to eliminating opportunities for corruption, promoting transparency, and strengthening community and official oversight.
AMAN calls on the government to publish and present the Draft Law by Decree on the Right of Access to Information for community consultation with a view to producing a contemporary law that conforms to best practice, and ensures respect for the right of access to information. AMAN calls on the Council of Ministers to take into account the draft law by decree agreed to in 2014 by all civil society actors as well as all previous comments, particularly in relation to avoiding a broad scope of exceptions to the right of access to information. Vague and loosely defined terms and expressions should also be waived, ensuring that the exception is not the rule.
In this context, AMAN asserted that the Law by Decree on the Right of Access to Information was 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, ensuring easy access to information both for researchers and for information management agencies. AMAN also called on the Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammed Sthtayyeh, to issue instructions to all public institutions to begin to classify, provide access to public information, and identify classified information until such time the Law on the Right of Access to Information is enacted.