Amman — Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, has produced a policy paper: “Access to Information in the Arab World.”
Investigative reporting of the kind ARIJ promotes and supports, which holds the powerful to account, depends on reporters and citizens being able to see the meeting minutes, files, and documents produced by government officials.
That information is vital for a citizenry able to participate in public life and to make wise decisions about elections, public, and policy debates. In 1766 Sweden became the first country to develop a Freedom of Information Act and 119 countries have done the same since. But Arab and North African countries are not well represented in that number – and most have only taken action recently, including Morocco in 2011, Tunisia and Egypt in 2014, and Algeria in 2016.
ARIJ encourages and trains journalists to use FOI laws where available to hold the powerful accountable.
The policy paper, authored by Yahia Shukkeir, illustrates all the challenges our journalists know well, with focus on Jordan, Tunisia and Yemen. It makes recommendations for policy makers, decision makers and researchers in the region about what they can do to open up the records of government to all.
And it also demonstrates how ARIJeans, particularly in Jordan and Tunisia, are leading the bureaucratic and legal push to bring officials into compliance with FOI laws.
Since its founding in 2005, ARIJ has trained 2,137 journalists, students and professors in investigative journalism tools and techniques and has supported through funding, coaching, and legal review 513 investigative stories and projects.
To download the Policy paper in English, Click here
To download the Policy paper in Arabic, Click here