Today is the International Right to Know Day, initiated by the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet) – which MADA joined last year – to mark the importance of the right to information through various activities and events worldwide.
The director of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), Mousa Rimawi, declared that the adoption of a Right to Information Law in Palestine is of the utmost importance for the benefice of the media and the community at large. Such a law has already been adopted by more than a hundred countries around the globe. The moment has come for the State of Palestine to join that trend, all the more that it has recently signed 15 international agreements and human rights conventions and that the current Palestinian leadership intends to join more of them in the near future in the face of the stalemate of the "Peace process" due to the Israeli intransigence and persistent refusal to abide by international law.
Rimawi added that last-ditch efforts must be made to complete a long process of drafting and advocating a new Access to Information law in which MADA played a leading role. MADA, in cooperation with the Geneva Centre, hold several meetings with journalists, civil society organizations and governmental bodies to discuss extensively the draft law, which was subsequently handed over to Professor Fawaz Abu Zer, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Minister in charge of Legal Affairs. The draft was also assessed by the Centre for Law and Democracy in Canada and Article 19 Foundation in Britain. Besides, MADA carried out an intensive media campaigns to raise awareness on the importance of the law.
MADA then participated in a committee formed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers to discuss and amend the draft. A new text was handed over by the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission Mr. Rafik Natsheh to the Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah last December, and then put under discussion during two workshops organized by MADA and the Media Development Center of Birzeit University, one in Birzeit and one in Gaza. Some observations and recommendations to improve the draft stemming from these workshops were integrated in the final version of the draft which is now in the hands of the Cabinet.
In addition, MADA joined a petition launched by Article 19 and signed by dozens of regional and international institutions urging the Secretary General of the United Nations to highlight the importance of the right to information, free media, and the protection of civil society organizations' ability to organize and engage in his upcoming stocktaking report on the Sustainable Development Goals to the General Assembly.
Rimawi asserted that MADA will pursue its efforts with all its partners to create a healthy legal environment for the media in Palestine, which is desperately needed to allow media workers perform their role in the appropriate conditions.