Jerusalem24 – A study issued by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” in conjunction with the International Day for the Right to Information, recommended the utmost importance to pass the law on the right to information in light of the spread of the “Corona” epidemic to limit rumors and false news.
Mada’s publication of the study prepared by the researcher Munjid Abu Sharar, titled “The Importance of the Right to Information During the Spread of the Coronavirus / COVID 19”, which also included a representative group of journalists who worked on coverage of the developments of the epidemic in Palestine, as part of the Center’s efforts. MADA in its endeavors aimed at enshrining this basic human right and ensuring its implementation through the passage of a long-awaited Palestinian law, despite repeated official promises to do so.
The study, which was carried out with the support of the open society foundation, dealt with the political and legal environment in Palestine and its impact on the approval of the Right to Information Law, and the importance of this right in light of the spread of the Corona epidemic, (by addressing several issues, most notably the precautionary measures taken by the Palestinian government and their impact. On this right, managing the file of financial solidarity and the flow of information), and the reality of journalists’ access to information during the period of epidemic and emergency that was imposed and is still enforced in Palestine, in addition to the study touching on what this right is, and the limits of automatic disclosure of public information by official institutions.
The survey of the study sample showed that 57% of the journalists surveyed said they had not seen any of the draft law on the right to access information that was proposed and has been allegedly under discussion for years, while 43% said they had seen it or some part of it.
A similar percentage (57% of the respondents) described their knowledge of the legal frameworks governing the right to obtain information in Palestine as “weak”, and 54% considered the degree of public institutions’ disclosure of information regarding the Corona epidemic as “scarce” while 43% said it was “sufficient.” 3% described it as a “wide disclosure.”
66% of the surveyed journalists said that official institutions were cooperative when they requested information from them, while 30% said that they were “conservative” on what they had information, and 4% said that they refused to provide them with the information they requested.
It is noteworthy that the International Day for the Right to Information was approved in 2002 during a meeting in which dozens of non-governmental organizations working in defense of freedom of access to information participated, in which the global network of defenders of freedom of information was formed, which identified and adopted four basic principles and pillars guiding their efforts and actions, namely The right to obtain information is one of the basic rights for the enjoyment of other human rights, and that the right to obtain information is the basis for achieving government transparency and accountability, and that citizens cannot influence decision-making and public policies if they do not have access to information. The fourth of these foundations and principles is that the exercise of this right requires the passing of laws that guarantee it and regulate its practice in accordance with international standards.