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MADA releases access to information study

(MADA/IFEX) - 28 September 2010 - In conjunction with the International Day of Access to Information, 28 September, the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has issued a new study entitled: "The reality of access to information in Palestine".

The study was developed in cooperation with the Arab Network for Freedom of Information, and aimed to study the availability of the right of access to information in Palestine, especially for media outlets and journalists, and how Palestinian legislation is dealing with this right.

The study found that there are obstacles facing the right of access to information, in regard to the theoretical legislation and the practical application.

The study includes a series of recommendations, which are:

- adopt the draft law on access to information, which was approved at the general discussions in the Palestinian Legislative Council;

- include the right of access to information in the draft proposal of the Palestinian constitution;

- adopt the proposed amendments to the draft law;

- promote a culture of transparency and openness through officials in public institutions (senior and general staff) and raise awareness about the importance of enabling the public to have this right as a means to reach the concept of good governance;

- publish the codes of conduct for employees in public, national, civil and private companies that provide public services, or any employees that have an impact on society and the environment, which includes employees' commitment and respect for citizens' right of access to information;

- strengthen the role of the Palestinian media to receive and deliver information to the public through the facilitation of their duties by all public institution officials, especially in the security organizations;

- adopt an open-door policy, where all general meetings are open to the public unless there is a discussion of information from a list of specific exceptions.

In a related event, MADA Director Mousa Rimawi welcomed the international expert in the field of access to information, Professor Bertil Cottier, as well as the Deputy Director of the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces in Ramallah, Nicolas Mason, as they discussed the state of the media and media freedom in Palestine and journalists' suffering from the continued violations. They also reviewed the reality of the right of access to information in Palestine and Switzerland.

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