Challenges Faced

Challenges Faced

After we started communicating with the concerned bodies, we found out that most of them were unaware of RLAW. We often explained the law and some of its provisions to the official in charge before handing over the request to the administration. However, some administrations refused to hand us a receipt of notice on the grounds that the director general should review any request before registering it. This raises several questions regarding the benefit of requiring an «administrative registry» in all administrations, if such a registry refuses to hand over a receipt of notice or transaction. In some administrations, the receipt of notice was not delivered until after the approval of the legal department within the administration, which prolonged the consequent waiting and examination period of the request

The above indicates that any legal or natural person can request information from the government is relatively new. The existence of a mechanism that allows a Lebanese citizen to access information available in administrative decisions, contracts and invoices is a foreign culture that has never existed in the administrations. Lebanese law now guarantees everyone the right to access information, which is becoming the equivalent of a supervisory authority run by the people and can be used to hold the administrations accountable through specific legal means. Some of the administrations to which we submitted requests were difficult to communicate and follow
up with since they require a personal visit to find out if they responded

We also faced a small number of concerned administrations that either refused to accept the request or received it and declined to respond to it because they considered themselves not subject to RLAW. These bodies include the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities and the State Consultative Council (Majlis Shura al-Dawla), both which will be discussed later in the report. This is of particular importance because the State Consultative Council is tasked with overseeing all requests that are rejected by reason of not having formed the National Anti-Corruption Authority. Consequently, how can such an integral part of the judiciary refuse to adhere to RLAW, yet comply with its provisions for other public administrations?

It is common knowledge that all public administrations are subject to a supervisory authority, which is usually headed by a ministry. Some administrations verbally referred us to their supervisory authority after refusing to accept the request while others formally referred us after receiving the request. The law, as mentioned above, covers all administrations with an independent legal personality — all of whom are directly subject to its provisions. This is illustrated by Article 2, Section 9 of of RLAW that defines an “administration” as all “persons of public law.» For this reason, there is no need to refer any applicant to the supervisory authority

Some security departments and military councils did not allow us to deliver the proposals without a prior appointment. Some of these administrations, however, cannot be reached by phone, so we had to submit a request to some security agencies, and to those that refused to accept the request or refused to issue a receipt of notice through registered mail

It should also be mentioned that the only public administrations that were implementing the provisions of RLAW before communicating with them were the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) and the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR). LPA has devoted a special section of its website for this right, which entitles all citizens to request information through it. As for OMSAR, it provided us with the decision of the minister which assigned the respective information officer nearly two months after RLAW was ratified. As for the rest of the administrations, most of them commissioned an information officer to consider requests for information after we submitted a request to them

Posted on July 9, 2018 in Right to Access Information project

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