UNESCO supports freedom of information in Morocco
UNESCO’s Office in Rabat supports the Moroccan Network of Civil Society Groups for Access to Information (REMDI) in their advocacy and awareness-raising campaign for freedom of information (FOI).
As an integral part of the fundamental right for freedom of expression, UNESCO has been promoting access to public information worldwide for more than 10 years, and more than 90 of its Member States have already adopted FOI laws.
In 2011 the principle of freedom of information was included in the Article 27 of the new Constitution in Morocco, and on 26 March 2013 the Government published the related draft law.
UNESCO’s Office in Rabat has supported the Moroccan network of civil society groups for Access to Information (REMDI) in its advocacy and awareness-raising campaign for the adoption, implementation and effective use of freedom of information law in accordance with international standards.
In April a one-day national seminar gathered experts, academics, civil society organizations and journalists to study and comment on the draft law and to ensure that it meets their requirements as well as international standards. A comprehensive review by the experts of the draft law followed by discussions and recommendations resulted in the Rabat Declaration that includes concrete proposals of amendments to the draft FOI law in Morocco.
As a follow-up, in June a working session at the Parliament was facilitated by UNESCO and REMDI to focus on Parliament’s key role in FOI promotion and discuss civil society recommendations to amend the current bill. The Minister of Public Service and Modernization of Administration has supported the initiative and ensured that proposals will be taken into consideration.
Finally, in order to raise awareness on the right of freedom of information in some of the main sectors within public administration, a series of meetings to present FOI key principles and concrete applications of the right to representatives of these sectors and citizens was organized:
- The first meeting was dedicated to the education sector, tackling issues pertaining to the relations between education and FOI, such as accessibility of information to university students and associations of parents, and access to public information in the context of scientific research in universities.
- The second meeting was devoted to FOI in the health sector. The audience was composed of representatives from the Health ministry, doctors’ trade unions, academics, legal and medical experts, civil society organizations, journalists and Moroccan citizens. They addressed the issues of access to medical files, the relations between patient and hospital administrations and doctors, jurisprudence, access to information for family planning, and occupational medicine.
By implementing together advocacy and outreach actions, this UNESCO supported programme has achieved important steps toward a participatory adoption of the law as well as a better understanding of the right to access public information among Moroccan citizens.
These activities are being supported under a regional project financed by the Government of Finland.