Lebanon’s Ministry of Information, in cooperation with UNESCO office in Beirut and the United Nations Development Program UNDP, on Thursday organized a consultative meeting with media outlets on the “Right to Information” law draft media plan at the Gefinor Rotana Hotel.
The meeting was attended by Caretaker Minister of Information, Dr. Manal Abdel Samad Najd, UNDP Resident Representative, Celine Moyroud, George Abboud representing UNESCO’s Beirut office director, Costanza Farina, Ministry of Information’s General Director, Dr. Hassan Falha, and other senior official figures and dignitaries.
The meeting stressed the importance of the “Right to Information” law and the role of media institutions implementing its relevant media plan, along with the substantial need to raise awareness about it in a simple language that guides citizens to their rights.
The meeting also highlighted the need to establish an e-government to curb corruption.
In her address, Abdel Samad welcomed the event’s international partners “UNDP and UNESCO”, as well as other media partners who partook in this consultative meeting to disclose a draft media plan on the “Right to Information” law.
Abdel Samad expressed hope that the law would see the light in public administrations in a bid to promote a culture of transparency, deepen the principles of democracy, and restore the citizen’s confidence in their country.
“Confidence in the state and its organs is essential, and this trust is built through effective performance and good governance. In light of rampant corruption and ineffective public institutions, we are facing a pandemic of another kind, more deadly and more dangerous to our society,” Abdel Samad warned.
“Everyone is aware that transparency is the shortest path to combat corruption and achieve good governance, which is reflected in an increase in revenues — most notably tax — and an increase in the effectiveness of public investment projects, not to mention that it contributes to the sustainable development of our society,” she added.
Abdel Samad went on to highlight the fact that the “Right to Information” law was a basic human right.
“It is one of the pillars of effective democracy, as it allows citizens to participate in public life through accountability, contributes to the dissemination of a culture of transparency, deepens the principles of democracy, and restores the citizens’ confidence in their country. Therefore, we must exert every effort to ensure that information is obtained in an easy, immediate, effective and practical way,” the Caretaker Minister added, noting that the “Right to Information” law was passed back in 2017, and its implementation decree was approved in 2020.
“This year, we developed the media plan. As for the National Anti-Corruption Authority, it remains pending,” she added.
For her part, UNDP Resident Representative, Celine Moyroud, underlined the importance of the “Right to Information” law, deeming it one of the UNDP’s priorities and an integral part of the national anti-corruption strategy adopted by Lebanon.
“This priority was adopted within the reform plans that followed Beirut Port blast,” she added, stressing the need to fully implement the right to information law en route to recovery.
Moyroud then capitalized on the Ministry of Information’s main role implementing the “Right to Information” law.
“The media plan has been developed in coordination with the civil society, and we await your comments regarding priorities and the implementation process of this plan,” she concluded.
For his part, George Abboud, the representative of UNESCO’s Beirut office director, Costanza Farina, said that “the role of the Ministry of Information to push for the discussion of the media plan’s draft law is clear evidence of the ministry’s commitment to democracy.”
He announced that UNESCO would launch in September 2021 a training program on the right to access to information for media outlets.
“UNESCO’s General Conference in 2015 declared the “Right to Information” Day on September 28 of each year, and the title of the day this year will be ‘What do we know about our right to know?’,” Abboud concluded.