Art And Culture

Freedom of Information Law Will Help Curb Corruption

Freedom of Information Law Will Help Curb CorruptionFreedom of Information Law Will Help Curb Corruption

Implementing the freedom of information law will enable the government to promote openness and transparency which are the best ways to tackle corruption.

Hossein Entezami, deputy culture minister for press affairs, made the remarks during the ‘Freedom of Information Law, International Experience’ conference held at the National Library on Wednesday, IRNA reported.

He stressed that corruption could be curbed by adopting “a policy of openness” and not by setting up new inspection bodies.  “Many problems and obstacles exist, but the government is determined to weed them out and is fully committed to stamping out corruption.”

The law obliges all state institutions to provide the public free access to information without asking the reason behind the request.

Entezami said, “According to Islamic law the true owners of information and official documents are the people and the government’s primary duty is to safeguard them.”

The law will “revolutionize government-people interaction” and make access to information a normal process. Heads of organizations should understand that providing people with information they seek is to the benefit of the country in the long-term.

“Concurrently, the people must be aware of their right to official information. A special commission will supervise the progress of implementing the law and give annual reports to the president, who will update parliament on the process.”

The government also aims to digitalize information so that people can access it via Internet, while other channels of communication will be devised for those who lack computer skills. “They can contact the government authority concerned and seek information.”

Entezami, formerly an editor at Jaam-e Jam newspaper, further said all government establishments are obliged by law to deliver information within 10 days on receiving a request. “Even if the request is sent to the wrong department, the latter is legally obliged to offer proper guidance.”

He referred to “cumbersome bureaucracy” under the previous administration that was extensively dependent on the oil economy and adopted a policy of concealment of official records, to the exclusion of the people.

While the previous administration declared commitment to Article 44 of the Constitution, “the article was never fully enacted.”

Article 44 refers to civil and penal punishment for denying access to information.