This page is a list of some of the past or completed projects by CLD.
Middle East and North Africa
The Middle East and North Africa is a turbulent area of the world which has undergone important political changes in the last years. Despite some progress since the Arab Spring, the area still suffers from important shortcomings in terms of the promotion and protection of human rights, including the rights CLD works on. The MENA region has been a major area of focus for CLD since the Arab Spring. The organisation has carried out a range of work aimed at boosting the right to information and freedom of expression across the Arab world.
Transparency at the League of Arab States
CLD was engaged from 2018 to 2019 in a project aiming to facilitate understanding of and engagement with the League of Arab States (LAS) among key media and civil society stakeholders, as well as to set clear goals for the League of Arab States to improve the conditions for civil society engagement and, over the longer term, to promote transparency and good governance within the LAS.
A report on the conditions for effective civil society engagement with the LAS, based both on better practices at other IGOs and the policies and practices currently in place at the LAS was written with partner organisations Transparency Maroc (TM), Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Maharat Foundation (Lebanon).
CLD and its partners subsequently launched a Charter for Improving Civil Society Engagement with the League of Arab States ahead of the 31 March 2019 Arab League Summit in Tunis. The Charter sets out minimum standards for what the LAS needs to do to improve its engagement practices with civil society and other stakeholders.
Right to Information in Lebanon
A regional workshop on the right to information held in Beirut from 8-9 June 2017, bringing together participants from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, and hosted by Social Media Exchange, the Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support, has agreed to create a regional network of right to information activists. This commitment was contained in a Workshop Statement adopted by participants.
Media Freedom in the Arab World
In March 2016, CLD was involved in an open public consultation aimed at gathering views from key stakeholders on the establishment of a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the Arab World was launched today. The consultation was part of a regional initiative to improve the performance and the commitment of Arab States to media freedom. It responded to rising concerns in the region, where the temptation to revert to authoritarian practices is strong and where media face greater risks than ever before.
Journalistic Regulation in the Arab World
In March 2015, CLD was involved in a the drafting of a statement setting out a number of clear standards regarding the regulation of journalism. These include that it is not for governments to decide who is and who is not a journalist and that journalists have the right to choose freely which unions, associations and/or syndicates they wish to belong to and that they should not be required – by either the law or their employers – to belong to any particular syndicate. The Statement was developed and adopted at a regional meeting of human rights and media experts held in Tunis from 6-7 March 2015 which was organised by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) working with partners the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), International Media Support (IMS) and Vigilance.
Media Freedom in Lebanon
Following a workshop in Beirut In April 2014, the CLD released a Statement on criminal restrictions on media content in the Middle East. The Statement reflects a strong consensus among experts in the region on the main criminal law problems, and charts a clear path in terms of the basic reform efforts that are required.
Media Law in the Arab World
CLD produced a major publication, the Handbook on International Standards and Media Law in the Arab World in September 2013. The Handbook offers a unique overview of the laws and regulations governing the media in the Arab world.
Media Law in Jordan
In June 2013, CLD released Comments on the 2012 Amendments to Jordan’s Press and Publication Law, specifying their harmful impact and calling on the Jordanian government to repeal the changes. CLD also specifically condemned the government’s use of the law to block media websites (over 300 in June 2013 alone).
Media Law in Morocco
Also in June 2013, CLD released an Analysis of the reforms proposed to four Media Laws in Morocco. The CLD Analysis noted that these reforms contained positive elements, but urged further improvements.
CLD has undertaken several other RTI analyses for MENA States: in October 2012 CLD released Comments on the 2012 draft Constitution in Egypt, in June 2013 CLD released a Note on the Tunisian draft Constitution, in December 2013 CLD made Recommendations based on the RTI rating of a draft Palestinian law and, in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), CLD prepared a Note reviewing a Right to Access Information law in the Kurdistan region of Iraq in January 2014.
Reform of Defamation Laws in Egypt
A Statement released by CLD in August 2012, called for reforms to Egypt’s criminal defamation laws.
Media Law in Somalia
In May 2012, CLD conducted an Analysis of the draft Somali law on Communications. CLD found that the Somali Communications Act of 2012 was a step in the right direction towards creating a proper legal framework for telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, and called on the Somali government to take concrete action by adopting laws that are in line with international standards. In December 2012, following Somali elections, CLD published a Media Law and Policy Review of Somalia.
Right to Information in Yemen
In May 2012 CLD conducted an Analysis of a new Yemeni RTI law, which praised the broad scope and applicability of the law. The law was later amended and the CLD followed up with an updated Analysis in July 2012 which highlighted several problematic changes made to the law, while acknowledging that it remained the strongest of its kind in the Arab world. CLD is also engaging with Yemen’s first Information Commissioner-General, Samir Noman, to assist in the law’s implementation.
Right to Information in Egypt
After the 2011 revolution in Egypt, the CLD produced an Analysis of a draft RTI Law proposed by Egypt’s civil society. The score of 129/150 based on the international RTI rating standard would have placed the draft Law in fourth place globally. Unfortunately, the draft Law failed to gain significant traction and, as of 2014, Egypt still does not have RTI legislation in place.
Freedom of Press in Tunisia
In April 2011 CLD released a Comment on the proposed Tunisian Press Law, which found that although the draft was a marked improvement upon the 1975 regime of control, it failed to meet international human rights standards.
Journalist Protection in Iraq
Also in April 2011, CLD prepared a Note on an Iraqi Journalist protection law. Although the law featured strong protections, CLD criticised the fact that the law only applied to members of the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists.
CLD has long been engaged in Nepal, most recently as a part of a project around strengthening citizen engagement in local government and promoting accountability and transparency at all levels.
Training at the Information Commission
In December 2017, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) concluded a joint training programme for senior information officers from more than 30 different public bodies with the Nepal National Information Commission (NIC). The three-day programme focused on a range of issues including practical steps information officers can take to improve citizens’ access to information, the wider benefits of the right to information, regional developments, classification of information and future directions for information officers and the NIC.
Report on Media Freedom
In March 2016, the Report of the International Mission to Nepal for Promoting Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists was launched, outlining the findings of the Nepal International Media Partnership (NIMP), which visited Nepal from 19 to 23 April 2015. The primary goals of the Mission were to assess the media freedom situation in the country and to provide support to the then ongoing UNPFN/UNESCO project, Increasing the Safety of Journalists.
Analysis of Constitutional Proposals
The government of Nepal released a new version of the draft Constitution to be considered by Parliament. CLD helped prepare a joint Statement by the Nepal International Media Partnership (NIMP) providing an analysis of the draft Constitution from the perspective of international guarantees of freedom of expression. It was intended to support the government and Parliament of Nepal, as well as other local stakeholders, with a view to ensuring that the final version of the Constitution was as fully in line with international standards as possible.
Protecting Freedom of Speech
The Centre for Law and Democracy participated in the Nepal International Media Partnership (NIMP) mission to Nepal from 19 to 23 April 2015, the eighth such mission which has been held since the first one ten years ago in 2005. The aim of this Mission was to assess the media freedom situation in Nepal and to provide support for reform initiatives. The Mission focused on two key areas, the creation of a specialised safety mechanism to address attacks on those exercising their right to freedom of expression and the ongoing need for legal and policy reform. A Joint Statement was issued at the end of the Mission setting out key findings and recommendations.
Indonesia has been a major country of focus for CLD. We were involved in a major project working with local stakeholders in Indonesia to help them implement and promote the Act on Public Information Transparency, which came into force in May 2010. The project was designed to boost the right to information in Indonesia by synergising strong demand with efficient supply.
The first phase of the project ran from June 2011 until March 2012. CLD partnered on this project with a number of Indonesian organisations, including PATTIRO, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Yayasan 28, Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) and Yayasan SET, as well as working closely with the Central Information Commission and other public bodies.
Between June 22 and June 29 2011, CLD and AJI co-hosted a series of workshops in Jakarta, Surabaya and Lampung. These meetings, which were attended by journalists and representatives from several major civil-society initiatives, were designed to educate and inform participants about their rights under Indonesia’s Act on Public Information Transparency, as well as to provide procedural information on how to go about making information requests, and how to deal with obstruction by public agencies. Participants were also able to hear from representatives from the regional Information Commissions, who offered practical guidance on how to maximize their chance of success when seeking information from public authorities.
In preparation for the workshops CLD, in cooperation with AJI, prepared a manual on the right to information in Indonesia which can be accessed both in English and in Indonesian. To further assist in spreading awareness of the right to information, CLD has also produced a series of brochures on the right to information, which were printed in English (1, 2, 3) and in Indonesian (1 front, 1 back, 2 front, 2 back, 3 front, 3 back).
The next stage of the project was to have the workshop participants file at least 10 information requests with public authorities. The participants committed to following up on these requests, with CLD offering financial and technical support to facilitate this. CLD and AJI held a follow-up conference for 20 of the participants on April 24-25 in Jakarta, during which they presented reports of their experiences.
Another aspect of Phase I was to work with local civil society to galvanise opposition to proposed secrecy legislation whose passage would negatively impact the right to information. CLD supported the SET Foundation in conducting an Analysis of the draft State Intelligence Bill. On 5 December 2011 CLD held a one-day conference in Jakarta on the subject of government secrecy, in order to promote discussion of Indonesia’s draft Law on State Secrecy. The meeting was co-hosted with Yayasan SET, and included presentations by CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel and CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas, as well as a variety of prominent Indonesian experts. The general consensus put forward by the participants was that the draft Law on State Secrecy threatens to undermine many of the progressive rights established by the Law on Transparency of Public Information, and while it is not necessarily illegitimate to have a state secrecy law, this particular version is problematically vague and unnecessary due to the protections of classified information already found in Indonesia’s transparency law. CLD and Yayasan SET have also published a Report outlining the problems with the draft Secrecy Law: A Burst of Sunlight but Darkness Looms.
On March 2012 CLD held an international conference in Jakarta to launch two major publications:
Implementation of the Right to Information: An Assessment of Three Indonesian Public Authorities (in Indonesian) and Interpretation of Exceptions to the Right to Information: Experiences in Indonesia and Elsewhere (in Indonesian). Speakers at the conference included András Jóri, former Hungarian Information Commissioner, Ahmad Alamsyah Saragih, Indonesian Central Information Commission, General Saut Nasution from the Indonesian National Police Headquarters, Professor Takdir Rahmadi, Supreme Court Judge and Tara Hidayat, Indonesian Presidential Task Force.
On 8 March 2012 CLD along with ICEL conducted a seminar on RTI for Indonesia’s judiciary at the invitation of the Supreme Court. The seminar featured a presentation by one of Australia’s foremost jurists, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG, and was attended by representatives of the Supreme Court, the National Police headquarters, and several information commissions along with numerous other judges, who travelled from across Indonesia for the workshop.
After Phase I was successfully concluded, CLD obtained further support from the Open Society Foundations to carry out a second phase, which commenced with a stakeholders meeting on November 26 in Jakarta between CLD and local partners PATTIRO, AJI and ICEL. CLD is also partnering with KontraS, an NGO whose mission is to ensure accountability for victims of human rights abuses. CLD’s activities that week also included meetings with representatives from Indonesia’s Central Information Commission and several regional Information Commissioners, as well as leading media figures Bambang Harymurti and Lin Neumann.
Phase II, which was completed in late 2013, includes multiple components. On the demand side, the project includes several initiatives by PATTIRO designed to spur demand for access to information including an awareness raising SMS-message campaign, a media blitz, and the production of two feature films on the right to information. The films, which are in Bahasa, can be viewed here and here.
As another part of the project’s demand-side intervention, CLD conducted a training session from 6-8 February 2013 in Jakarta. The event featured participants from several Indonesian provinces, including West Java, South Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara and North Sulawesi, who were trained in RTI. The trainees are now acting as local RTI experts, and have conducted follow up RTI trainings of civil society and journalists in West Nusa Tenggara, North Sulawesi, Riau and West Java. Those groups trained in RTI at those sessions have gone on to lodge their own RTI requests, and the results of the process have been compiled into a Report on RTI Implementation (in English) (in Bahasa Indonesian).
CLD and AJI have also created a dedicated website on the right to information in Indonesia: http://www.informasipublik.net.
These activities are complimented by supply-side interventions to build capacity among public authorities, including collaborating with ICEL to develop a user-friendly training manual (in English) (in Indonesian) for information officers. This manual was used to conduct a training of public officials on 29-30 May 2013 in Jakarta, and a second training in Banten on 11 November 2013.
CLD and ICEL also worked together to develop two sets of guidelines to enhance public implementation of the RTI law. The first of these are the Guide on Applying Exceptions(in English) (in Bahasa). The second set of guidelines is the Guide for Implementing Law 14/2008 on Public Information Openness.
Another aspect of Phase II involves a collaboration with KontraS to assess and improve the public information capacities of five of Indonesia’s national-level commissions, the National Human Rights Commission, the Attorney General Commission, the National Police Commission, the Ombudsman and the Judicial Commission. The final report from that component is available here (in Bahasa).
Together, these combined approaches aim to harness the potential of Indonesia’s RTI law, and the enthusiasm of Indonesia’s civil society to spur positive change. CLD is presently engaged in consultations with its partners over the best path forward to continuing to push for full implementation of the right to information in Indonesia.
Visit of Indian and Sri Lanka Information Commissioners in Mexico City
Information Commissioners from Sri Lanka and India undertook a mission to Mexico’s National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI), the oversight body in that country, last week to exchange best practices and experiences regarding oversight of the right to information. During the technical visit, on 7-8 March 2018, they met with different local actors both within INAI and externally, while on 9 March 2018 they participated in a public workshop. The visit was organised by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) with the support of The Social Architects in Sri Lanka, and a former Information Commissioner of Canada also participated.