Today, on international right to know day, ARTICLE 19 calls on the Moroccan Parliament to ensure that its Draft Law Regarding the Right to Access Information (Draft ATI Law) adequately protects citizens’ rights to access information and to freedom of expression. Following its legal analysis, ARTICLE 19 provides specific recommendations to improve the law in line with international standards.
The Government of Morocco has taken recent steps which signal progress towards improving transparency and governance in the Kingdom. Its announcement in December 2016 that it intends to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) indicate principles of transparency, accountability and improved civic participation in decision- and policy-making. In addition, its current ATI Draft Law, adopted by the Moroccan parliament’s lower chamber and reviewed by ARTICLE 19, shows progress towards international standards of transparency compared to previous iterations. While ARTICLE 19 welcomes these initiatives, it finds that shortcomings remain in its Draft ATI Law. It advises that it must be revised for Morocco to be eligible for OGP membership and to ensure that its Law will meet international standards on freedom of information.
A critical deficiency in Morocco’s Draft ATI Law is that it limits the scope of the right to access information to Moroccan citizens. In its legal analysis, ARTICLE 19 also highlights a number of concerning limitations on the re-use of information and exceptions to the right to access information which are inconsistent with international standards. Furthermore, it finds that these exceptions in the Law do not fully comply with the harm test as they include absolute exceptions to the right (article 7- paragraph 1). It should be noted that this draft also fails to outline the public harm test.
“Five years from when the bill was first proposed officially by the government and a year since its adoption by the lower chamber, the willingness of the Government to adopt the law is called into question while other States in the region have made comparative progress. Lebanon, Tunisia, Kenya and Tanzania have all adopted ATI laws and are in the process of implementation”, said David Diaz-Jogeix, Director of programmes of ARTICLE 19.
On International Right To Know Day, ARTICLE 19 urges the Government of Morocco to review and revise its Draft ATI Law and provides specific recommendations for its improvement based on international standards of the right to information.
ARTICLE 19 also offers to provide support to on-going discussions in Morocco to ensure that the law is consistent with the constitution and international standards.