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More than a year and a half after Lebanon adopted its first law mandating public access to information, most government agencies are not following it, a study by a transparency advocacy group found. The Gherbal Initiative, a nonprofit founded by Assaad Thebian – previously one of the organizers of the You Stink environmental campaign during the garbage crisis – set out to assess the rate of compliance with the Right to Access to Information Law by submitting information requests to 133 government bodies in early 2018 to see whether they would respond.The Shura Council, which in theory could be required to rule on appeals of denied requests filed under the information law, claimed that the law did not apply to it.The Right to Access to Information Law, passed in January 2017 after years of negotiations, mandates that public agencies should publish certain records on their websites, including budgets, annual reports and financial transactions of more than LL5 million ($3,300).The Gherbal report recommended that the government should speed up the formation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission; provide training to agency staff on the Access to Information Law; improve websites to allow for the publication of the required information; and establish an official website with a listing of all government departments that would allow members of the public to request information from more than one agency at a time.
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