Do Lebanese have access to information from public institutions?
A public opinion survey about the ease of accessing information from public institutions in Lebanon showed that 81.5% of respondents considerthat they do not have adequate access to information, as reported by Lebanon This Week, Byblos Bank publication. Also, 49% of survey participants said that it is very difficult to access information in Lebanon and 12.5% think that it is impossible to get information from public institutions. The survey aims to assess the awareness of Lebanese citizens about their rights and the information they need to exercise those rights. The study also evaluated the impact of the absence of an Access to Information law (ATI) on civil life.
The survey found that 85.1% of respondents consider that access to information is a right, but they noted that information is accessed through influence, bribery and the use of socioeconomic clout. The study shows that that 74.8% of respondents acknowledged that political connections are the most efficient way to obtain information, while 61.7% of them consider that bribing public-sector employees and officials to be the easiest way to get information. Further, 42.5% of respondents stated that social status helps them get infor- mation.
The study indicated that 57.3% of surveyed citizens hold the government responsible for not facilitating access to information, and 43.6% held political parties and politicians liable. Also, 44.4% of respondents blamed Lebanese citizens for not taken any action to improve access to information.
In parallel, 45.5% of respondents agree that the lack of an ATI law weakens democratic institutions, prevents citizen from monitoring their government, and makes it difficult to hold public officials accountable for their performance. Additionally, 42.6% of respondents considered that the lack of an ATI law negatively impacts business and professional life. Finally, the survey revealed that 78.8% of respondents did not hear about the Access to Information draft law of 2009. The survey was commissioned by the Lebanese Transparency Association and funded by the World Bank. It was conducted in August 2012 on a sample of 1,155 individuals by the Carthage Center for Research & Information.
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