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Palestine: One step closer to the realisation of an access to information law

On 7 December 2013, a new and enriched draft of the Access to Information law being worked on in Palestine was completed. The Palestinian Center for Media Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) is optimistic that this draft, which is based on a proposed law drafted by MADA, may be enacted by the first half of the year 2014.

The committee that had reviewed and completed the draft after a few weeks of extensive meetings included representatives from the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, Office of the Fatwa and Legislation, Ministry of Justice, the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the Civil Commission to strengthen the independence of the judiciary (Istiqlal), and a representative of the Palestinian Center for Development and Freedoms Media (MADA). The committee held its first meeting on 4 November 2013.

General Director of MADA Mousa Rimawi was particularly pleased that the committee completed their revision of the draft law only a few days prior to the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which falls on 10 December 2013, a day known as the International Day of Human Rights.

On behalf of MADA, Rimawi thanked Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Committee Rafik Natsheh, General Secretary of the Council of Ministers Fawaz Aqel and his assistant at the Legal Affairs Counsel Fawaz Abu Zer, as well as General Manager of Natsheh's office Professor Said Shehadeh and Chairperson of the Committee Rasha Amarna, for their efforts to form the committee and follow up on its action plan.

"We must not forget the dreadful state of human rights in Palestine," said Rimawi, "where the Palestinian people still suffer from the denial of the most basic human rights due to the Israeli occupation and its continuous violations of rights and media freedoms, and due the obnoxious Fatah-Hamas division which very negatively affects the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, where all attempts at reconciliation in recent years have failed."

"On this day [International Human Rights Day], we at MADA emphasize that it is time to stop all violations against freedom of expression and to refrain from forcing journalists into the midst of internal differences," he added.

MADA will continue its efforts to defend journalists, progress the Palestinian media, and amend and develop media legislations. MADA will also continue its awareness campaign to promote freedom of expression and the right to access information, because of the relevance of these rights to the citizens of Palestine as well as to its government, which wants to open up to its people.

MADA again would like to thank all those who contributed to and participated in the development of the draft law over the past year from journalists, experts, and civil society organizations and government institutions, and who supported those efforts, particularly the Legal Affairs Adviser to the President Hassan Alouri, the Minister of Communications Safa Nasser al-Din, and the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information Mahmoud Khalifa, in addition to our international friends and partners who have supported us and provided advice and observations, especially DCAF, the centre for security, development and the rule of law.

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