Lebanon Businessnews News

Right of access
to public information granted
Administrative documents free of charge
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The Parliament ratified a 26-article law on the public right to the access of information.

The law stipulates that every individual, natural or legal, has the right to access information and documents available at administrations, as long as the right is not abused.

Administrations are defined by the law as State and public administrations, public institutions, independent administrative authorities, courts and legal councils (except for religious courts), municipalities and municipal unions, private companies tasked with running public facilities and properties, mixed companies, public benefit institutions, and committees that organize and operate public sectors and concessions.

Administrative documents include written and electronic documents, audio, visual, and audiovisual recordings, pictures, and all electronically readable documents. These documents include files, reports, studies, statistics, instructions, circulations, memos, and decisions issued by public administrations. They also include contracts and documents of the National Archives Center.

Individuals have the right to access personal files and evaluation reports of natural persons pointed to by name, identification number, code, or any other identification method such as fingerprints, eye-print, picture, or voice. Personal files include civil status records and files that include all information related to a natural person, including IP address.

Information that cannot be accessed includes national defense and security secrets, confidential foreign relations management, whatever harms the State’s financial and economic interests and the safety of national currency, the lives, mental and physical health of individuals, and secrets protected by law such as professional trade secrets.

Documents that cannot be made public are the following: Confidential trials, confidential hearings by the Parliament and its committees, confidential cabinet deliberations and decisions, preparatory and unfinished documents, opinions issued by the State Shura Council except those made public by individuals involved.

Public administrations must publish online all decisions, instructions, circulations, and memos that include explanations of laws and regulations within 15 days of issuance.

All operations whereby more than LL5 million is paid in public money shall be made public within one month of complete payment or payment in installment. The announcement should include the value of the operation, method of payment, reason, beneficiary, legal means (tender, consensual agreement, judicial ruling). Employee payroll and compensations are exempted.

For documents that are not published online or otherwise, the applicant should present the request for access to information in written form. The employee who receives the request should prepare a record of all applications, and immediately notify the applicant regarding the time needed to provide an answer.

All administrative documents shall be accessed free of charge.

A national committee to fight corruption, to be formed, shall receive complaints regarding the law’s implementation, investigate them, and issue decision. The committee gives advice to administrations, prepares an annual report of the difficulties impeding access to information, and spreads awareness among citizens and public employees.

The committee issues a binding decision within two months of the filing of a complaint. Its decision can be appealed at the State Shura Council.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Jan 20, 2017
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