For the freedom of scientific research and updating local councils and E-government, Demands for a new law for freedom of information

May 30th, 2010 by Editor

 At the end of a seminar entitled” Towards a free informative society”, which was held by EOHR on Thursday 27/5/2010 at EOHR’s office,  media experts, representatives of political parties and human rights activists called the government for  speeding  up the enactment of a clear bill for providing information reflects the international standards on the effective access to information, and criminalize  the prohibition of circulation or preventing  circulation for such reasons not related to the national security. Also they called for  reviewing   all laws and procedures to ensure that the  policy of disclosure is a basic concept governing the spread of information which is considered a  right for all and that hiding  information is the exception, stressing the need not to expand the concept of national security to violate the rights of individuals to exchange information and community needs for the freedom in this regard as a condition of development and progress, this to update local councils and the freedom of scientific research and to develop E-government in Egypt.

 

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, chairman of EOHR confirmed  the importance of providing information in democratic societies as considered one of the basic citizenship rights, reviewing  and amending  all laws and procedures that impede access to information, to comply with the international covenants on human rights approved by the Egyptian government and became part and parcel of its domestic law in accordance with Article 151 of the Constitution, leading to a bill for freedom of information. He also confirmed on the importance of activate president Mubarak’s call released in his electoral program on enacting a bill for the freedom of information.

 

Abu Seada added that there are several laws concerned with the freedom to circulate information in the world for example: Freedom of Information Act in the United States (1966), and Information Act in Thailand (1997), and Information Act in Japan (1999), and the law of access to information Bulgaria (2000), and the Law to promote access to information in South Africa (2001), and the Information Act in Mexico (2002), and the Law in India (2003).

 

It is noteworthy that Sweden was the first country in the world to adopt a law giving citizens the right to access to information from the governments bodies, pointing out that Egypt can depend on the British law 2005 as a model which gives accordingly the right to access to information regardless of age, nationality or residency and submitting a request to the governmental side determining the information type as the law guarantees the concerned side to response during 20 days from the date of submission.

 

 Dr. Mohamed Safawt Al Alam, professor at Cairo university, clarified that the scientific research has an important role  to develop  communities and spreading awareness culture, the scientific research is the science which deals with the positive organized knowledge.

 

Al Alam indicated that there are many problems face the scientific research including

the system of hidden contracting or undeclared contracting which began to grow in all the levels of scientific research from the Masters and Doctorate and even scientific researches needed for being promoted to the various scientific degrees.

 

As for the role of the Internet in scientific research, he explained that the internet became very important for the scientific research through libraries catalogs and online and commercial libraries and databases and this linked with the concept of electronic publishing which provides for researches and academics a huge opportunities in spreading their scientific efforts and their academic researches without restrictions.

 

As for Mr. Abdul Ghafar Shoukr, deputy of Director of Arab and African Research center, spoke about  the local reign and the freedom of exchanging information and the increased care of completing the democratic change and developing the situations of national reignas citizens be able to share with managing their home affairs and to participate in decision making which organizes the main fields.

 

Shokr indicated that the system of local administration is a part of democratic development for the society as he confirmed that one of the main factors that helped to spread corruption in the local councils is the absence of transparency and information on the performance of executive bodies, for example, the private funds of local administration  which are being conducted without disclosing their sources and expenditure of the proceeds. The absence of information and transparency helps to spread corruption as a result of officials’  monopoly to information and their control over information, there are thousands of irregularities and criminal cases which deal with this corruption and its events which many officials of various levels of local administration are accused of.   

 

In the period from 1997 to 2003 the total resources of the private funds of the local administration in the governorates reached billion and 648 million pounds, only 75% was spent  while the rest is not directed to achieve developed projects, also 40 million pounds and 750 thousand pounds was spent from these private funds on advertisements, gifts, trips, bonuses, furniture, office equipment and electrical appliances the matter which considered a waste for public money and indifference of officials.    

 

Shokr attributed the problem of local councils to the spread of corruption in the local administration bodies at all levels, the inability of local councils to question the executive bodies and their staff and reduce their corruption, civil society organizations’ giving up to focus on the status of local administration despite the association with the basic interests of citizens.  

  

Shokr called the local councils for  developing  the local administration to use the freedom of information by issuing a new law for the local administration which  organize the relation between the central government and the elected local  councils which based on decentralization and strengthening  the  role of the elected local councils and consolidate it’s power to face the executive institutions in all levels of the local administration which guarantees it’s ability to question the executive officials , enabling the NGO’s and the public opinion to contribute in observing the performance of the local administration institutions , and  provide NGOs with the necessary information  to carry out it’s role and issue the law of the freedom of exchange of information which enables the society and it’s political, local and media organizations  to follow up the current events and to be aware of  aspects of the governmental performance deviations in the local councils.

 

Dr. Ahmed Abu Baraka,  member of people’s assembly , spoke  about two subjects the electronic government and freedom of exchanging information, he also mentioned that while examining the legislative map of states which organize the right to access to information , there are states  which depend on openness and other states don’t depend upon it . he called the states to be guided by the principals of article 19 in drafting laws which concerns with the freedom of exchange of information , first: maximum limit of exposure , second: the commitment of publishing the fundamental information , third: the consolidation of the open government , forth: the clearness of exceptions and be subjected to the damage and public opinion tests , fifth: facilitate obtaining the information and  reviewing the information with integrity and providing independent reviews for any refusal. Sixth: the high expenses should not prevent people from access to information, seventh: the general authority meetings should be open for all, amend or substitute the laws which does not  comply with the maximum limit of exposure principle, ninth: protect people who inform about corruption cases.

 

Mr.Abu Baraka  mentioned that the open government based on 4 aspects, first: collecting all activities, informational, exchangeable and interested services in one subject, this is the official governmental website , second: achieving full communication with people  24 hour/day , third: the ability to insure all informational needs and citizen services, forth: achieve the rapidity and the efficiency of the communication and coordination , achieving plenty of spending in all aspects . 

 

Mr. Gamal Fahmy, member of  press syndicate, mentioned that preventing              information considers one the most important problems that face the right of exchanging information in Egypt. Mr. Fahmy asked to speed up the electronic government through creating communication channels, in the light of using the technology and inability of  controlling it the matter which led to the use of the internet, blogs and information exchange.

 

Mr.Mohamed Anwar El Sadat shura council member, confirmed that the exchange of information in Egypt is a huge problem and  we need to know the real documents and questionnaires.

 

Mr.Farid Zahran, director of El Mahroosa Center, confirmed that there are a lot of absent details, there is corruption in the local councils and the only way to eliminate corruption is fulfilling  transparency, he also confirmed that  there is a legal frame which consolidates bureaucracy.

 

 

Mr. Zahran handled the problem of the scientific research in Egypt, indicating that the problem is not in the scarcity of information, in the contrary there is flow of information , sorting, classifying and publishing it in books, but there is scarcity in information in some cases , he called for the necessity of changing the legislative frame which organize the right to exchange information by issuing law which allows it and agree with the international standards.      

 

 

 

For more information please Contact EOHR on:

Tel: + 202 236 36 811/ + 202 236 20 467

Fax: + 202 236 21 613

Email: eohr@eohr.org

 

 

 

 

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