Egypt govt drafts freedom of information law

The Justice Ministry, in coordination with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, has prepared a freedom of information draft law which the government will soon present to Parliament for discussion, said Assistant Minister of Justice for Legislative Affairs Omar al-Sherif Monday

During the Human Rights Committee’s meeting at the People’s Assembly, Sherif said that journalists are waiting for their right to obtain information that is normally not available to journalists, such as governmental reports and statistics. He added that the draft law must respect personal privacy and that there must be rules that govern documented information on persons, such as their health.

Concerning the authority that would carry the responsibility of circulating information and whether it would be a council or body, Sherif said this issue was of the utmost importance, and that he expects conflict to erupt between different factions in the government, all of which will wish to have the upper hand. 

Meanwhile, Major General Ali Abdel Mawla, director of Interior Ministry’s Legal Department, said the press law already affirms journalists’ rights to access information, but that it takes the securing of national security into account. He called for the annexation of all relevant laws into a single law that would ultimately lead to the freedom of information circulation.

The move comes after several demands by human rights activists, academics and journalists to develop a law allowing Egyptians to access information issued by the state, and for greater transparency on behalf of the state.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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