IFJ praises Kur­dis­tan’s Right to In­for­ma­tion Law

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists (IFJ) and Cen­tre for Law and Democ­racy (CLD) pub­lished a de­tailed memo say­ing that the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion’s newly adopted Right to In­for­ma­tion Law (Law No. 11, 2013) is a rel­a­tively pro­gres­sive piece of leg­is­la­tion. The new leg­is­la­tion puts Kur­dis­atn in 28th place glob­ally out of 95 coun­tries, gar­ner­ing 98 points out of a pos­si­ble 150 on the RTI Rat­ing.

"It is very wel­come that the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has adopted this law, join­ing other democ­ra­cies by putting in place a sys­tem for en­sur­ing trans­parency in govern­ment," said Toby Men­del, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre for Law and Democ­racy. "While the Law is strong, there are a num­ber of ar­eas where it could still be im­proved."

The memo pro­vides an assess­ment of the Law which takes into ac­count in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and com­par­a­tively bet­ter prac­tices.

Weak ar­eas in­clude the pro­ce­dures for pro­cess­ing re­quests for in­for­ma­tion, which are too brief and lack de­tail, and the regime con­cern­ing sanc­tions and pro­tec­tions.

The Law also fails to create a ded­i­cated over­sight body for in­for­ma­tion ap­peals (such as an in­forma- tion com­mis­sion), al­lo­cat­ing this task in­stead to the ex­ist­ing Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

The Law is, on the other hand, quite strong in terms of scope and the mea­sures it takes to pro­mote trans­parency.

Im­por­tantly, the RTI Law fails to in­clude a pro­vi­sion call­ing for its rules to be in­ter­preted in the man­ner that op­ti­mizes its effect on both the right to in­for­ma­tion and the wider ben­e­fits this brings.

It is not clear whether the RTI Law lim­its the right to make re­quests for in­for­ma­tion to cit­i­zens or ap­plies to ev­ery­one. Ar­ti­cle 2 refers to the right in terms of citi- zens only, while Ar­ti­cle 4 refers to “ev­ery nat­u­ral or le­gal per­son” and Ar­ti­cle 5 to “ev­ery per­son”. It is best prac­tice to al­low any­one to make a re­quest for in­for­ma­tion.

Ar­ti­cles 1(8) and (9) de­fine in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments, re­spec­tively, in a broad man­ner. Ar­ti­cles 4 and 5, which es­tab­lish the un­der­ly­ing right to ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, re­fer to a right to ac­cess both in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments. It is im­por­tant that, in prac­tice, re­questers are al­lowed to lodge both re­quests for spe­cific doc­u­ments and for types of in­for­ma­tion, which can then be com­piled from doc­u­ments, ac­cord­ing to the de­tailed memo pub- lished by the IFJ.

"We wel­come the adop­tion of this law in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion which will pro­vide im­por­tant pro­tec­tion for jour­nal­ists so they can re­port on the per­for­mance of govern­ment and other pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions without fear of pun­ish­ment or reprisal," said IFJ Pres­i­dent, Jim Boumelha.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.