Amman, 19 May 2016 – On 11 May 2016, UNESCO organized an Access to Information (ATI) pilot training for information officers in key government ministries at The National Library in Amman.
The well-attended training involved members of several Ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Statistics, as well as officials from the Media Commission and The National Library.
The pilot training was conducted within the framework of the EU funded and UNESCO implemented Support to Media in Jordan project. “A key component of our project is ensuring that public bodies in Jordan are supported to take the appropriate steps to implement the Law properly, and to bring the Law more into line with international standards,” said Biljana Tatomir, Senior Project Officer at UNESCO. “We want to thank our hosts at The National Library who provided the space and as custodians of information in Jordan, their engagement and enthusiasm is very encouraging,” she added.
The training was conducted by Toby Mendel, UNESCO consultant and international media law expert, with the support of Yuhia Sukkheir, UNESCO national consultant. Based on the recent legal analysis conducted by Mendel on Jordan’s ATI Law, and the draft ATI training manual, the pilot training covered all aspects of the Law, including submitting information requests, responding to requests, engaging in the appeals process, technical requirements, classification of documents, records management and staff training. Mendel also discussed the meaning and purpose of the Law, and gave an overview of the Law as it complies with international legal standards.
“I learned many new things today that I did not know before. It is the first time that I learn that there is an application for obtaining information. This is great for all citizens in Jordan, not only for journalists,” said Leila Al Omari, Responsible for Media Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This is a very important training course. In our Department, we follow this very closely. I hope that in the future we can have a specialized course for our staff at the Department as it would be very good chance for all our colleagues to know more about this Law,” added Hosni Dhayyem, Spokesperson at the Department of Statistics.
According to Mendel, there are a number of things the officials can do both internally within their own departments and externally to raise awareness of the Law. “For the former, for example, one of the participants indicated that the appointment of the information committee had been done formally and then the memo had been sent to all employees. There is also a need for training to be provided to employees. Externally, it would be good if public bodies could place posters advertising the Right at all of their public offices and waiting rooms,” said Mendel.
The pilot training is the first of several similar trainings that UNESCO will organize in the coming months.