The formation of the “Coalition on the Right of Access to Information”

PNN/ Ramallah/

The need to access information is increasing in our contemporary world. At present, more than one hundred states have passed laws to guarantee the rights of its citizens to information. In Palestine, there is an urgent, yet unfulfilled need to pass such laws, which will facilitate the wider participation of citizens in public life, especially in the absence of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

A group of civil society organizations have concurred to hold a series of consultative meetings at the invitation of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA). These participant organizations are; the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN), the Media Development Center at Birzeit University, Al-Haq Organization and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. During these meetings, the latest updates concerning this draft law were discussed, including the delays in passing it. Such delays call for concerted efforts by the concerned civil society organizations in order to pass this draft law. Therefore, it was agreed among these organizations that a coalition would be formed called the “Coalition of the Right to Access to Information”.

The coalition has set two main objectives:

– Pressure Palestinian decision-makers to pass the draft law on the right of access to information and ensure its implementation.

– Promote the importance of such a draft law throughout Palestinian society; create a culture for people to demand their right to access information and seek accountability..

The establishment of the coalition is based on the following:

– Membership is open to all civil society organisations, as well as unions who wish to participate in achieving the aforementioned objectives. An internal system will be developed to recruit members.

– The Coalition will communicate, coordinate, and develop partnerships with various Palestinian governmental and non-governmental organisations, especially those that will play a prominent role in passing the right to information law, including the Anti -Corruption Commission.

– In order to achieve the stated goals, a series of widespread activities will be conducted.

The activities include:

– Hold meetings with decision-makers to encourage them to support a right to information draft law, including by supporting and facilitating communication and tasks.

– Carry out media campaigns to introduce and promote the importance of the law and its importance for Palestinian society and advocate to pass the draft law.

– The Coalition will recruit members and mobilize public opinion in order to form working groups advocating for the goals of the Coalition.

– Coordinate amongst different bodies and organisations based on mutual interests in the draft law.

– Research and analyze regional and international experiences relevant to laws on the right to access information.

-Provide ideas and information relevant to these experiences which can be used to overcome obstacles standing before approving the draft law in Palestine or that would assist in passing the law and the financial costs.

-Include the issue of the right to access information within the work of organisations in the Coalition.

Create a website to promote the law and publish others’ experiences in this field.

Hold an annual conference.

-Provide recommendations to be used by the coalition members, to implement the principles of the draft law within their organisations, even before it’s passed.

-Hold symposiums, workshops, discussions, lectures and roundtables with officials on the right to information.

-Prepare studies and educational brochures on the matter.

-Establish a media campaign, including: leaflets, posters, and other materials with clear slogans.

-Carry out other public activities and awareness campaigns, including collecting signatures, and preparing petitions.

-Establish a network with various media outlets, including print media, radio and television, to encourage them to include the right to information in their publications.