Lebanon: Right of Access to Information Law a major step despite enforcement challenges

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the adoption of the right of access to information law in Lebanon and considers it to be a major step in reinforcing freedom of expression, and the principles of transparency, accountability and the fight against corruption. The adoption of this law reflects Lebanon’s international commitments, and ARTICLE 19 calls on authorities to comply with and enforce provisions of the law to ensure equal access to information.

Lebanon joins a small group in becoming the fourth Arab country to provide legal protection for access to information, in a region that is among the worst on issues of freedom of expression and information, known instead for widespread corruption and bribery,” says Saloua Ghazouani, Director of ARTICLE 19 Tunisia.

Eight years after submitting the draft law, and five years since the draft was discussed by the Administration and Justice Commission, the Lebanese Parliament finally adopted the Right of Access to Information law on 19 January 2016, marking a major achievement for the country.

ARTICLE 19 calls for the immediate and effective enforcement of the law’s provisions and calls on the Government to show strong political will and positive administrative commitment to support the law and ensure its enforcement by taking appropriate measures in terms of practical and explanatory texts as well as by providing necessary material and human resources to monitor the successful implementation of the law.

The legal protections of the Right of Access to Information law are necessary and important, and should be implemented with respect for International Law and Standards. However, this is not enough if the law is not properly enforced – many countries adopt laws to protect this right but do not show any desire to enforce it on the ground” says Saloua Ghazouani.

ARTICLE 19 calls again on civil society, journalists and all citizens to play an active role in making the best use of this law to build a culture of accountability and participation in public matters.