Law on free access to information

A law on free access to public information will soon be put into effect.

At a ceremony ‘on information disclosure and free access code’, Hossein Entezami, information and press deputy at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said the code ascribes citizens “as the true owners of information.”

The law, seen as revolutionary in the domestic information system, “will completely alter government-people interaction.”

The code obliges all state institutions to provide the public free access to information without asking the reason behind the request, IRNA reported.

“The law recognizes the right of reporters to have free access to information. An office that refuses to provide reporters with public information can be prosecuted for infringement of the law.”

Chapter six of the law refers to civil and penal punishment for denying access to information; any delay in giving and disseminating information, which may cause losses to the media and citizens, should be compensated by the violators.

The new policies will prepare the ground for seeking clarification on government services and meeting people’s demand for accountability, and is a big step towards democracy, Entezami said.

The law, approved by the government in 2009, had thus far been surveyed in a special commission headed by the minister of culture and Islamic guidance.

The Culture Ministry spokesman said access to information is the people’s constitutional right which the government is bound to uphold.

“A special commission will supervise the process of implementing the law, resolve any disputes, and adopt a solid strategy for its proper and smooth execution.”

Entezami has worked in various Iranian journals and news websites as chief editor or member of editorial board including Hamshahri and Khabar Online.

By Financial Tribune