Last month, Qatar’s Cabinet approved a draft law on regulating access to information in an effort to “keep pace with global developments”.
The Qatari Cabinet has provisionally approved a draft law on documents and archives on Wednesday, as reported by Gulf state’s news agency (QNA).
According to the news agency, the law entails regulating the handling, classification, preservation and protection of public, historical, and national documents amongst others.
The governmental body has also approved of a draft Amiri decision regulating the Qatar National Archive. The draft decision involves organising and preserving collections of archives, classifying their confidentiality and supervising them.
Both decisions come as the Gulf state appears to be moving towards providing more open access to documents.
A Qatar National Archive building has been established in Msheireb Downtown, in the heart of Doha. According to architecture magazine, Dezeen, the building is going to be open to the public upon its completion this year.
Last month, Qatar’s Cabinet had approved a draft law on regulating access to information in an effort to “keep pace with global developments”. The draft law regulates “the right to obtain information” and was referred to the Shura Council, where a final decision is going to be made.
The draft law was prepared by the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority and was seen as a positive move towards achieving more transparency in Qatar. There were no further details on the draft law over regulating access to information.
Right to access information has been brought to the public’s attention over the past years.
Addressing the nation during the beginning of the 2017 GCC crisis, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani stressed the importance of accessing information in the country.
At the time, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt launched an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar.
“Freedom of expression is meaningless if the citizen does not have the right to access information. Qatar has quashed the monopoly on information through the media revolution it started, and it is no longer possible to go back,” said Sheikh Tamim at the time.
In 2005, Qatar joined the international community in signing the 2003 UN Convention Against Corruption.
The convention stated that one measure to fight corruption includes “adopting procedures or regulations allowing members of the general public to obtain, where appropriate, information on the organisation, functioning, and decision-making processes of its public administration”.
Qatar currently ranks 25 out of 100 on the Freedom House Index, which labels the country as “not free”. The organisation believes that official information in Qatar is “tightly controlled”.
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