Lebanese Authorities pass access to information legislation
On 19th January, the Lebanese parliament finally approved a Right to Access to Information bill, eight years after the first draft was initially submitted. The Minister of Parliament, Ghassan Moukheiber, who had presented the draft law in 2009, emphasised that collaboration between civil society and the government was important when drafting the legislation. In a statement, he noted:
'The bill was originally initiated and drafted within a broad network - the Lebanese Network for Access to Information – that was shared by the Lebanese Parliamentarians against Corruption Organization.'
Many freedom of speech advocates welcomed the legislation, believing it will usher in a new era of accountability. With corruption often cited as a key concern among journalists, many hope that better access to government information will help in the fight against institutionalised corruption. The bill's provisions grant permission to anyone, Lebanese or foreigner, to access annual reports or documents of a regulatory nature from public entities as well as from a limited number of private entities that are either controlled by a public entity, provide a public service or manage public property. No justification is needed to request information from the Lebanese authorities.