Q30.

Are mechanisms for accessing information from the defence sector effective?

30a. Legal framework

Score

SCORE: 50/100

Assessor Explanation

Assessor Sources

30b. Classification of information

Score

SCORE: NS/100

Assessor Explanation

Assessor Sources

30c. Effectiveness

Score

SCORE: 50/100

Assessor Explanation

Assessor Sources

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There are no clear guidelines stipulating that the public can access information about the defence sector.

Algeria’s new constitution of 2016 includes an article (Art. 51) regarding the accessibility of information, which generally guarantees that citizens can obtain information, documents, statistics and circulate them. However, the article also imposes a limitation on the coverage of some subjects. For example, it says that the exercise of this right shall not (among others) affect the requirements of national security (1), (2). The Law of Information of 2012 had already restricted the right of access to information with regards to national security. According to Art. 84, the right of access to sources of information is generally granted to professional journalists but there are exceptions if the information concerns national defence secrecy (2), (3).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

No legal framework on how information is classified as secret was found. As outlined in 30A, the Law of Information of 2012 only ensures that data concerning national defence secrecy is protected (1). Furthermore, Art. 44 of the military statute only explicitly states that members of the military are prohibited from disseminating information that is harmful to national defence or the image of the armed forces (2). It also does not provide any guidelines.

Getting information on the security sector is challenging, according to an LSE report. Journalists have outlined the difficulties they face when trying to access official information with regards to the security realm. They have also reported that the security officials decide on what information they provide to the journalists, who in turn can hardly verify the information (1).

Algeria’s press freedom and the freedom to inform has been attacked by authorities since the presidential election in 2014, according to Reporter’s Without Borders. Their World Press Freedom Index ranked Algeria 136 out of 180 in 2018. In 2014, Algeria ranked 121 (2). The state, for example, has significant control over Algeria’s media regulatory bodies. In 2016, the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority (Autorité de Régulation de L’Audiovisual, ARAV) was established, which oversees the broadcast sector to ensure the ‘free exercise of the audiovisual activity according to the conditions defined by law’. The nomination of its nine members is mainly controlled by the president (1).

The 2002 law on access to administrative documents regulates access to non-classified documents. “Internal and external security” related documents, or information that could be perceived to threaten said security, are subject to classification,” (Art. 5) – but can be freely accessed once the classification is withdrawn or expires (1). The legal framework recognises broadly the right to access information (2).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The 2002 State Secrecy Law establishes a system of classification of information (1).

Despite relatively detailed laws that regulate access to administrative information and classification rules, defense sector related information is by and large restricted (1), (2).

Burkina Faso passed a new Access to Information bill in September 2015. Article 1 of the law gives the right to access public information and administrative documents (1). Article 6 of the law states, “access to public information and administrative documents is free subject to the exceptions provided for in sections 47 to 51 of this Act. Public information can be communicated by right to people who make the request under the conditions provided by this law” (1). Prohibited information according to Articles 47 and 48 is information related to information and documents concerning the defence of national security, state security, security or public order (1).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Under Article 4 of Law N° 051-2015 information is classified into two categories: Classified and declassified information (1). Access to classified information is prohibited while declassified information may be accessed based on the procedure stated in the law (1). However, what constitutes classified information is not defined in the law.

Under Article 6 of the law access to public information and administrative documents is free subject to the exceptions provided for in sections 47 to 51 of this act. Public information can be given out to people who make requests under the conditions provided by the law (1). Prohibited information according to Article 47 and 48 of the are information, among others, related to information and documents concerning the defence of national security, state security, security or public order (1).

According to the 2018 BTI Report, the government limits access to general government information, whereas, Article 1 of the law gives right to access public information and administrative documents (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6).

Cameroon has no specific law on freedom of information. The 1990 Law on Social Communication does confirm the “right to know”; however, the government does not make documents or statistics freely available to the public or the media in practice [1].

According to Freedom House (2016), “Several journalists were arrested or punished for their work under existing laws during 2015, with at least two facing allegations of collaborating with Boko Haram. Ahmed Abba, a Nigerian journalist for Radio France Internationale (RFI), was arrested in July in Maroua, located in the Far North Region. He was transferred to Yaoundé, where he was held for several months without charge or access to a lawyer, reportedly on suspicion of having links to Boko Haram, which he had covered in his work. He was granted access to his lawyer in October, and his trial opened in November. Freelance journalist Simon Ateba was temporarily detained in late August for entering the Minawao refugee camp in the Far North Province without official permission, and on suspicion of spying on behalf of Boko Haram. The camp houses roughly 50,000 Nigerian refugees who fled from Boko Haram” [1]. While these observations are not specifically related to requests for information from the defence sector, there is no evidence to suggest that there are legislation and implementation guidelines that clearly stipulate how the public can access defence information.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

In Cameroon, there are four types of information: the first is restricted information, which is made available to soldiers. The second is more confidential information which if not properly handled can be detrimental to defence. The third is information that may pose a threat to the defence architecture, and the last is information which may pose a threat to government institutions and defence [1].

According to the interviewees, some documents on the activities of the military, including its role in the fight against criminality and terrorism, are made available upon request from the Minister [1] [2]. However, information relating to national security and defence strategy is not made available to the public as it is considered a state secret (Article 35 of the 1996 Constitution) [3] [4].

Law No. 2013-867 of December 23, 2013, (Relatif à l’accès à l’information d’intérêt public) regulates public access to information by private citizens, journalists, researchers, etc. In Article 9, the Law explicitly bars access to information on secret items related to national security (1). Nevertheless, Article 18 of the 2016 Constitution states, “citizens have the right to information and access to public documents as established by law” this entitles all Ivorian citizens to access to public information and public documents within the limits of the law. However, the 2016 Constitution does not stipulate specific guidelines for public access to defence sector information (2).

Article 165 of the 2016 Constitution also provides for a national ombudsman figure known as the “Médiateur de la République”, described as an independent go-between for public administration issues. But the Constitution whether the ombudsman can intercede on behalf of citizens demanding access to public information (2).
“Title XI, The Mediator of the Republic, Chapter I – Duties of the Ombudsman of the Republic, Article 165 – Hereby, a mediation body called “The Ombudsman of the Republic” is established. The Ombudsman is an independent Administrative Authority with a public service mission. The Mediator of the Republic is not subject to instructions from any authority” (2). The role of the national ombudsman is regulated by Organic Law No. 2007-540 of 1 August 2007 (Fixant les attributions, l’organisation et le fonctionnement de l’Organe de médiation dénommé « le Médiateur de la République). This Organic Law stipulates citizens’ general rights to mediation services, but no explicit rights to request public information (3).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Law No. 2013-867 of December 23, 2013 (Relatif à l’accès à l’information d’intérêt public) regulates access to public information and classifies certain information into two broad categories: communicable and non-communicable. In Chapter III (Informations et Documents Non Communicables), Article 9, the Law cites the documents that are not available for public access due to their classification as secrets for reasons of national defence. It includes other public documents for which such requests will also be denied (1).

Confidential Information and Documents:
Article 9: Information or public documents the disclosure of which would be detrimental to:
– secrecy of government deliberations and those under the Executive power;
– national defence secrets;
– State foreign policy procedures;
– State security, public security or the security of people;
– monetary and exchange rate policy of the State;
– proceedings before courts (jurisdictions) or preliminary inquiries into such proceedings, unless authorized by the competent authority;
– private life or private interests, including secrecy industrial and commercial matters, the documents offered for sale at public (1).

There is a lack of public access to information specifically related to the defence sector due to its “non-communicable” nature, as per Law No. 2013-867 of December 23, 2013. The MoD may be considered an exception given the sensitivity of the information it handles and the impact it can have on the nation’s political stability. Public access to information from other government ministries is handled more effectively via the Commission d’Accès à l’Information d’Intérêt Public (CAIDP). For Global Integrity (Africa Integrity Indicators, AII 2018), all public institutions in Côte d’Ivoire, including the government ministries, should have an information service to respond to public requests based on Article 18 of the 2016 Constitution. The public administration has 15 days to respond to information requests by journalists and researchers. It has 30 days to respond to requests by ordinary citizens (1). From January 2016 to August 2017, a total of 63.5% of public institutions that received requests had appointed someone to provide access to public documents. If no information is provided, citizens have recourse to the Commission d’Accès à l’Information d’Intérêt Public (CAIDP). AII 2018 cited the case of an NGO (Social Justice) which had asked CAIDP to intercede to access the annual report of a government action plan for 2017-2020. The public institution responded to the CAIDP that the annual report had not yet been drafted (1). However, these types of cases do not specifically reflect the effectiveness of requests for information submitted to defence sector institutions.

There is no legislation to regulate access to state information in general or defence and security information in particular (1).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is no clear legal framework for the classification of information. However, there are disparate mentions of “defence secrets” (classified information) in the Constitution, military provision laws, the General Intelligence law, etc. However, classified information in law is often used a lot to prevent the spread of information rather than to regulate access to it (1), (2).

Most information related to the defence sector, including investigations and trials, is considered “military secret” and its dissemination is severely punished by law (1).

There are laws that inhibit access to information; these include the Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323), the Whistleblower Act, 2006 (Act 720), the Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105), the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008 (Act 762); the Habeas Corpus Act, 1964 (Act 244); the Emergency Powers Act, 1994 (Act 472) and the Public Order Act 1994 (Act 491) (1,2,3,4,5,6,7).
However, it is important to note that the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, which was passed by Ghana’s Parliament in March 2019 and signed into law in May 2019, provides room for accessing some information – unless it threatens the defence and security of the State (8).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The system of classification is entrenched and detailed, but it is used to prevent disclosure rather than ensure adequate protection. The government is relatively free to classify any information relating to Ghana’s armed forces. This is unchanged in the proposed RTI bill. Classification and non-disclosure of information are if anything more entrenched in the current RTI (sections 5-18) (1).

Numerous laws deal with classification, but none more so than the State Secrets Act (101) of 1960 which is used by almost all public servants (2).

Others include:the Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323), the Whistleblower Act, 2006 (Act 720), the Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105), the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008 (Act 762); the Habeas Corpus Act, 1964 (Act 244); the Emergency Powers Act, 1994 (Act 472) and the Public Order Act 1994 (3).

Access to information is sporadic, and key sections are often missing or inaccessible. The media finds it difficult to get detailed information as is required (1), (2). There has been no formal effort to change this dynamic. Even the current proposed RTI legislation does not make explicit requirements for the armed forces to share information.

Jordan was the first country in the region to pass an access to information law [1], which was endorsed in 2007 and measures were taken to develop procedures necessary to facilitate access to information [2]. However, the legislation does not apply to the defence sector in Jordan, as matters of defence are considered highly confidential, as demonstrated by the armed forces prohibition of publishing information or news about them [3]. The framing of the Jordanian freedom of information law generally makes it difficult to request information from governmental departments and entities, as people are required to demonstrate a ‘lawful interest’ and/or a ‘legitimate reason’, which is subject to interpretation [4,5]. There is no legislation or implementing guidelines that clearly stipulate access to information for the defence sector.

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Although Jordan has an access to information law [1, 2], Article 13 of the law specifies exceptions to disclosure [3]. These exceptions include information about the country’s foreign relations, state secrets, correspondence between governmental entities and foreign countries and organisations. In addition to these exceptions, and the specified classified information, the information assembly responsible for implementing the law may classify previously unclassified information when they reject an information request [3]. This demonstrates that the classification of information, other than those stipulated in Article 13 of the law, is subject to the assembly’s interpretation, which indicates that there is not a legal framework for the classification of information to ensure adequate data protection [5,6]. Information about the defence sector is also considered classified under Jordan’s Protection of State Secrets and Documents Provisional Law No. 50 [4]. The law considers most of the defence sector’s activities and operations in the country as classified. Most matters related to defence are considered classified and because there is not a clear legal framework or system for the classification of information to ensure adequate data protection.

There are no legal provisions that allow the public access to information from the defence sector, and in fact access to information law in Jordan explicitly exempts defence information [1]. Provisional Law No. 50 on Jordan’s Protection of State Secrets and Documents also deems defence sector information to be classified and ‘secret’, rather than ordinary documents that can be shared with the public [2]. In 2016, the armed forces prohibited the publication of any of its news, under the pretext of national security [3]. In some cases, trying to access information about the defence sector could be considered a criminal act [4,5]. The public is rarely able to access information from the defence sector, if at all.

There is no legislation that says the public has the right to access any defence information, (1, 2, 3 and 4). The country does not have a clause about freedom of information, and the constitution, along with the laws that govern the security agencies, ignore this issue entirely.

This sub-indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI. There is no legal framework according to which information is classified and protected, officials and activists said (1, 2, 3 and 4). There is no law that grants the public the right to access Government information.

The only manner in which the public can access information from the defence sector is by pressuring lawmakers, who have the right to demand and receive any kind of information from the Government by virtue of article 99 of the constitution (1) and article 121 of the PIL (2), to demand the details they want from the security sector or the executive branch, but this is not an easy task since most lawmakers are pro-government. Assuming the public managed to apply enough pressure and Parliament demands information, the Emir can dissolve it according to article 107 of the constitution.

Most of the examples of MPs asking the Government, and the defence and security sector in particular, to give information and explain its decisions and events from the answer to question 3A apply here.

In August 2018, there was public and parliamentary uproar over the death of two students at the military academy, apparently due to harsh training exercises, prompting accusations of neglect from the public. MPs were forced to act and ask the military for information. Now the military is currently investigating the case, according to state news media, and even though it has lost some steam, it is expected to make headlines again soon if the military fails to produce answers or announces ones that are unsatisfactory to the public (3).

Public pressure is also what prompted MPs to ask for information about the 30 Caracal helicopters deal for over 1 billion USD (4), which was signed last year. The authorities are now also investigating the purchase of Eurofighter warplanes from Italy in 2015 (4), which also sparked similar public concerns over corruption, prompting parliamentary action.
Public pressure is also the driving force behind the MP’s (half-hearted) attempts to investigate the Interior Ministry buying gifts and holding elaborate ceremonies using public funds in February 2018, according to the prosecutors who are now investigating the matter (5).

Public anger is also what forced the MPs into pressuring the Government to address the protests in neighbouring Iraq over neglect that erupted in mid-2018 out of concern for Kuwait’s stability as the possibility of having to deal with a wave of refugees fleeing violence in Iraq appeared to grow (6).

But all of these investigations are still ongoing and the public does not have the full, verified story even though some of these events took place almost four years ago. The bits that come out do so in private parliamentary sessions, officials said (7 and 8).The press and social media speculate about what goes on in these sessions, but the Government is not forthcoming with the facts. One of the investigators working on defence cases told the TI that the military has not responded to most of their questions (3).

The Lebanese Government passed “The Right to access information law” in February 2017 to improve transparency in the country (1). Though the law is not specifically for the defence sector, it covers public institutions, municipalities and other main institutions linked to the state. It has also laid down the procedure to request access to information, the accessible information, and sensitive information that is restricted to the public due to national security reasons. It also identifies that the public can appeal for information, the allocation of a focal point, publication obligation, and the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission (2).

This sub-indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI. According to a source, the LAF has an internal classification of information that can limit the people who can access information (1).

The Right to Access Information Law does not restrict requesting information from the Ministry of National Defence or LAF command. However, it restricts information related to state secret on defence and security matters. (1) According to Ghorbale Initiative’s report on the law, attempt to request basic information from the Ministry of Defence and the Supreme Defence Council were not answered (2). In the brief Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative manual on the law, it stated that requests to authorities mentioned in the law had no response. However, it is due to the absence of a national anti-corruption authority. (3). To access information, citizens have to submit requests to the Directorate of Orientation at the LAF which should, in theory, get back to the person with an answer or with a rejection of the request (4).

Mali does not have a comprehensive freedom of information framework.¹ ² The country does not have a Freedom of Information Act and the current government has not indicated any intention to introduce such a law or adopt a strategy relating to the freedom of information.² ³
As the Carter Center noted in a 2006 study, Mali does have some laws on the statute book that provide the public with the right to access information from government departments.⁴ These are the 1998 law that governs relations between government bodies and public service users (loi 98-012 « Régissant les relations entre l’Administration et les Usagers des Services Publics) and the related decree (Décret d’Application 03-580) from 2003.
Chapter IV of the law outlines the conditions under which public service users can obtain access to administrative documents, including reports, studies, statistics, directives, circulars etc.⁵ Yet, Article 13 makes it explicitly clear that matters relating to national defence are exempt from this provision.⁵ The law lists the domains in which information is classed as secret and marked by a stamp of confidentiality. National defence is at the very top of the list, followed by foreign policy, the security of the state and public safety, among others.⁵

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There are numerous existing legal mechanisms for classifying information.
The 1998 law that governs relations between government bodies and public service users (loi 98-012 « Régissant les relations entre l’Administration et les Usagers des Services Publics) and the related decree (Décret d’Application 03-580) from 2003 contain legal provisions for the classification of information.¹
Article 11 prohibits the divulgation or publication of information defined as secret or covered by intellectual property rights. Furthermore, article 13 lists the domains in which information is classed as secret and marked by a stamp of confidentiality. These include:
– National defence
– Foreign policy
– The security of the state and public safety
– The deliberations of the government
– Judicial or customs investigations into breaches of the law
– Information gathering exercises by the judiciary unless the relevant body gives authorisation
– Matters relating to individuals’ private lives or business affairs
– The protection of commercial and industrial property
– Matters relating to the national currency and public funds
– Medical documents
– Individual documents of state employees.¹
The Penal Code² also facilitates the secrecy and confidentiality of defence issues by providing for the classification of information on the grounds of protecting national security. It notes that the below should be deemed national defence secrets:
1. “Military, diplomatic or economic information which by its nature must be known only by the qualified individuals should, in the interest of national defence, be kept secret with regard to any other person.
2. The objects, materials, writings, drawings, plans, maps, photographs or other reproductions, and any other documents whatsoever, which by their nature should be known only by people qualified to handle them or hold them and must be kept secret with regard to any other person, may lead to the discovery of information belonging to one of the categories referred to in the preceding paragraph;
3. Military information of any kind not made public by the government and not included in the lists above, including publication, dissemination, disclosure or reproduction has been prohibited by law or by a decree of the Council of Ministers;
4. Information on whether the measures taken to identify and arrest the perpetrators and people complicit in crimes or crimes against state security”.²

The country’s laws allow for the classification of all defence-related information1,2 (see Q30B). Combined with the deference shown by other public institutions towards the military (see Q16 & Q17), it is rarely possible to extract information about the armed forces from the MDAC.
The lack of a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act affords the public a weak legal platform when seeking to obtain information from state authorities. Freedom House specifically cites the military as a major barrier to obtaining information: “… laws are replete with extensive and vague exceptions, and journalists have faced obstacles when attempting to obtain information about the military in particular”.³
The editor of a national newspaper in Bamako told the assessor that the government will sometimes comply with requests for information, but only when it concerns information that will not embarrass it.⁴ Otherwise it is virtually impossible to obtain any information from the defence authorities because of their readiness to invoke the ‘secret défense’.⁴ The state is still experiencing a major crisis of confidence in the wake of what happened in 2012 and its ongoing inability to prevent attacks across large parts of Malian territory.⁴ Hence government officials tend to overstrain the defence secret argument to prevent the public from accessing information related to the defence sector, without having to provide more justification.
A senior security governance specialist added that “it is very difficult to obtain real hard data. You might manage to locate the person ostensibly responsible and supposedly ‘in-the-know’ about a particular topic, but even then they often won’t have a clue where to find the information because of major holes in accurate record-keeping”.⁵

Art. 27 of the Constitution states that citizens «have the right to access information held by the public administration, elected institutions and bodies charged with a public service mission» but this right is limited “in order to ensure the protection of all elements regarding national defence, as well as internal and external State security” [assessor’s own translation] (1)

Over the past few years, announcements have been made and actions taken by the Moroccan authorities regarding the development of citizen access to public information, such as the creation of an e-data platform about different sectors of government and state activity. However, the defence sector was exempt from this initiative (2).

Moreover, the press has reported that this access to information is currently under threat (3).

There are therefore currently no legislation or implementation guidelines that clearly elaborate on access to information for the defence sector. Instead, access to information related to national defence has been excluded from platforms which are openly accessible to citizens through the law 31-13 regarding access to information. Based on the above, it can be concluded that all information relating to defence is automatically restricted.

This sub-indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Despite announcements in 2015 by the Government, no development has been made since 2013 relating to the accessibility of defence information. No evidence was found regarding the regulating mechanisms for classifying information on the grounds of protecting national security (1).

Evidence was found in the 2013 Code of Public Procurement Contracts surrounding the legal provisions of the classification of information on the grounds of protecting national security. This evidence stems only from a few articles, namely:
– Article 86: Procurement contracts benefiting the Armed Forces can be processed without prior publicity or calls for tenders.
– Article 129: Architectural consultancy projects benefiting the Armed Forces can be processed without prior publicity or calls for tenders.
– Article 171: The National Defence Administration is exempt from the following restrictions: budget restraints (Article 6), publicising of offers (Articles 17, 36, 46, 63, 104 and 121), publication of the estimated programme, market achievement reports and a number of other documents (Article 147), use of electronic exchange procedures for documents and reverse electronic bids (articles 148, 149 and 151), market audits and controls (Article 165), control over military equipment, weaponry and ammunition procurement contracts (Article 156).

Art. 27 of the Constitution states that citizens «have the right to access information held by the public administration, elected institutions and bodies charged with a public service mission» but this right is limited “in order to ensure the protection of all elements regarding national defence, as well as internal and external State security” [assessor’s own translation] (1)

Over the past few years, announcements have been made and actions taken by the Moroccan authorities regarding the development of citizen access to public information, such as the creation of an e-data platform about different sectors of government and state activity. However, the defence sector was exempt from this initiative (2).

Moreover, the press has reported that this access to information is currently under threat (3).

There are therefore currently no legislation or implementation guidelines that clearly stipulate access to information for the defence sector, which means that in practice the public is not legally or technically able to access information about the defence sector.

There is legislation that stipulates access to information for the defence sector. As defined by the 2011 Ordonnance, administrative documents are separated into “communicable” and “noncommunicable”, which implies various levels of state secrecy. Officials are required to provide the legal grounds for denial of a request which must be notified in writing; requesters are able to appeal (2).
However, the Order lacks explicit provisions for:
– Method for classifying administrative documents;
– Existence of an active, independent, external review body (although citizens can appeal to the “médiateur de la République”, as per Articles 27–31).
For a score of 4, Niger would need legislation and implementing guidelines regulating citizens’ access to defence information, including the type of documents that are accessible, how public access decisions are made, a method for classifying documents, recourse for citizens to appeal a decision and the existence of an “active, accessible, independent, external appeal or review body” to audit such decisions. A score of 2 suggests that there is legislation and implementing guidelines that stipulate access to information for the defence sector (which is the case in Niger) but does not contain all the elements needed for a score of 4 (precise method for classifying administrative documents and existence of an external review body). While articles 12-14 establish some framework for classifying information, these could be developed further. 

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

As defined by the 2011 Ordonnance, administrative documents are separated into “communicable” and “noncommunicable”, which implies various levels of state secrecy. The law establishes procedures for accessing them and paying related costs. Officials are required to provide the legal grounds for denial of a request which must be notified in written form; individuals making the request are able to appeal’ (1).
For a score of 4, the government would need to operate within a clear legal framework allowing it to classify documents, articles 12-14 of the 2011 Ordonnance do not provide for a detailed and clearly formulated framework. A score of 2 is therefore more suitable for this sub-indicator.

Following desk research, it appears that information which is not classified as confidential is accessible to the public. This information is used in several reports by international organisations. However, Niger has a minimal capacity in terms of infrastructural constraints that may result in delays to access (1). See examples below from the Small Arms Survey (2017):
“Some agencies record these transfers, while others do not. And seized weapons may change custody several times, resulting in the duplication of records. All of these shortcomings should be considered in future efforts to create a national database.”
“While the police keep track of local firearms seizures and armed robberies, the collation of data at the national level is limited. The police provided no data on weapons seizures for this study.”
“The gendarmerie collects data from its regional units (called légions), which it aggregates in a thorough annual report. The dataset is the most comprehensive in the country and allows for some analysis of trends over time.”

There is no classification of confidential information. However, the freedom of information act does apply to the defence sector, but compliance with the requirement of the legislation is poor. Section 1(2) of the Official Secret Act says that “a public officer who fails to comply with any instructions given to him on behalf of the government as to the safeguarding of any classified matter which by virtue of his office is obtained by him or under his control is guilty of an offence” (1). There is insufficient clarity of how the Official Secrets Act is consistent with the Freedom of Information Act which identifies the classes of documents or information which a member of the public can request from an agency or government department. Many government communication documents are not classified, even if their exposure can lead to the compromise of national security. The Official Secrets Act is unclear, and this contributes to the reluctance of public officials to release information under the Freedom of Information Act even where the type of information is disclosed under the Act (2).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

Freedom of information applies to the defence sector. However, in practice compliance is not satisfactory. Despite the passage of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the National Assembly six years ago, Nigerian security institutions are still hoarding information relating to procurement process (1), (2). Section 37 of the Constitution and Section 3 (c) of the FOI Act list different categories of information the public can access (1). It is clear from the laws that the public is entitled to information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution. The right to request information from any public institution includes the military. However, despite these wide-ranging duty on public institutions they rarely respond to freedom of information Act requests. Under Sections 2(7) & (6) a person entitled to the right of access conferred by this act shall have the right to institute proceedings in the court to compel any public institution to comply with the provisions of this section (3), (4).

The defence sector rarely complies with requests for information from the Freedom of Information Act (1), (2).

According to multiple sources, there is no legal framework or policy that provides individuals, institutions or NGOs access to information on defence issues in Oman. It is not permitted and in many cases is criminalized (1), (2). The Omanuna eGovernment portal, published guidelines on Oman’s vision on open data on national statistics, budgetary information, geographical data, laws and regulations, and data about education and transport (3). However, no explicit reference is made to information access on the defence sector on either the Omanuna or Ministry of Defence websites (4), (5). The Ministry of Information is legally empowered to restrict information access to the public (6). According to Freedom House, information on local issues is severely restricted, and the Government’s Internet Service Manual has the power to restrict publicly available information (6).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is no legal framework that manages the classification of defence data, which is exempted from the data protection Royal Decree of 2015 (1). According to Omanuna guidelines, government data containing personal or classified information, like issues of national security cannot be published (2), (3). No information was found regarding how the Omani government ensures that sensitive information is protected (4), or setting forth classification of information related to defence and security issues (5).
Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harib al Busaidi, the minister responsible for Defence Affairs, links eGovernance to the modernisation of the ministry while “taking into account the confidentiality of military information and its security” (6). This is the only information regarding defence and access to information on the ministry’s website. There is a legal framework classifying information to ensure data protection; however, no further information is available, and the legal framework does not seem to apply to defence.

The public in Oman cannot have access to any military, defence or security data. It is not permitted and any individual who tries to ask for such information is subject to criminal charges (5). Publicly available information from the defence sector is severely limited (1). Media outlets rarely report on the defence sector translating into a gap in public awareness (2,3). Despite Omanuna guidelines and recent attempts by the Omani government to open data to public, classifications on sensitive data restrict information about the defence sector (4). For example no information is available on defence expenditure as discussed in sub-indicator 14A-C.

There is no legislation or guidelines that provide the public, journalists or CSOs access to information, in general, and security/military sector information in particular (1). According to AMAN, there is a proposed “Freedom to access information” law. However, it is not ratified yet, by either the legislature or the executive (2). This law has been proposed for years, and according to multiple sources involved in the drafting of the law, the security establishment will be largely exempt from giving information to the public if this law is ratified in future (3).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is no legal framework for the classification of information to ensure adequate data protection (1). According to several journalists, information can be obtained using personal connections or through leaks (1), (2), (3).

According to Aman reports, the public is rarely able to access information from the security sector, if at all (1). Journalists and CSOs also have difficulties in accessing information (2). According to the Law of Publishing and Printing (1995), journalists are prevented from publishing secrets and sensitive information (3).

There is no legislation or guidelines that clearly stipulate the need for access to information on the defence sector. Information on the defence sector is not publicly available and it is not permissible to release it if requested. [1,2] It has been established that information about defence in Qatar is scarce. The Hukoomi website (Qatar e-government) does not have any information on the legislations and guidelines regarding the access of information on the defence and security sectors [3]. The only document available in Arabic is Decree No. 31 (2006), which is the Military Service Act. According to Law No. 11 (2016) referring to the State’s Audit Bureau, defence and security sectors are not expected to comply with its regulations [4].

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

The Government of Qatar does not have any official documents or legislation that clearly describe the system of classification of information [1,2]. Since there is no legal framework that allows access to information on the defence and security sectors, there is no framework for the classification of information. Most information about defence is considered classified. This information includes the defence and security budgets, commercial enterprises, operations, and purchases. Most data about defence that is accessible, is through the media rather than official sources or documents.

The public is rarely able to access information on the defence sector. The Qatari Government does not provide any information about the defence sector, as it is considered to be confidential [1,2]. Defence information is not shared between government departments, with the State Audit Bureau, the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority and the Advisory Council being denied access to such material [3,4]. The only way for the public to access defence data is through non-Qatari media platforms, who occasionally announce arms deals or Qatari business investments abroad. These reports, however, lack detail.

Saudi law, in general, does not provide for public access to government information (1). There is nothing in the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia, nor any royal decree, or any comparable legal guidelines, that stipulates access to information in the defence sector (2). There is no evidence of a legal and formal method for the public to request information about the defence sector, which has traditionally been characterised by a high level of secrecy. The Saudi government does not have any legislation, resembling a Freedom of Information Act, that would require it to disclose certain data to the general public upon request. According to our sources, trying to access information, especially military information could be considered a crime; and therefore, nobody has tried or tries to access this information (3), (4).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Saudi government has a legal framework to classify information with regards to the defence sector. However, our sources confirmed that the existence of military and royal decrees prevent sharing or disclosing any type of information regarding military or armed activities including financial expenditures, among others (1), (2). Given the aforementioned high level of confidentiality relating to the internal workings of Saudi government departments and branches, and particularly that of the defence and foreign affairs sector, it is virtually impossible to ascertain from the public domain whether such a framework exists. If it does exist, it is not made public.

On November 21, 2018, a meeting agenda of the Majlis al-Shura referenced two reports by the Committee on Security Affairs relating to “a draft agreement between the Government of Saudi Arabia and the French Government for the exchange and protection of classified and protected information”; and “a draft agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of the Russian Federation on the mutual protection of classified information.” These references indicate that classification of information in the defence sector is on the government’s agenda, though this does not point to the existence of an existing legal framework in that regard (3).
According to a Gulf affairs expert, “it is unlikely that a legal framework for the classification of information will in place in Saudi Arabia for at least five years if not much longer” (4).

According to our resources, there are no known or published examples of a member of the public requesting information from the defence sector and being denied, it is highly unlikely that such a request would be granted (1). A researcher who has been trying to access this information and been denied access more than five times, and at the end, he was questioned by Saudi security about the purpose of his requests (2). The majority of the information that is made publicly available relating to the defence sector is the general information found on the MoD’s website; and Royal Decrees and announcements relating to issues such as new appointments or resignations and another restructuring within the sector. The MoD website does have several Eforms through which it can be contacted; however, these mainly pertain to suggestions or concerns (3). According to Steffen Hertog, there is “unlikely to be a mechanism” allowing the public to access information from the defence sector (4). According to a Gulf scholar who focuses on the political economy of the GCC, “There is no detailed information available, to my knowledge, of the defence budget at all in Saudi Arabia. General fiscal budget reporting is relatively new. One cannot find, for example, any public information on defence expenditure related to the conflict in Yemen. There is not itemized accounting within defence reporting” (5).

The right of access to information is guaranteed by the constitution which provides that the state shall guarantee the right to information and the right to access of information (1). There is legislation regulating the right for accessing information. This legislation guarantees the right to access information for the defence sector. The organic law n° 2016-22, dated 24 March 2016, related to access to information, allows citizens the right to access the administrative documents of public entities (2). Access to some parts of the budget of the Ministry of Defence can be denied if the administration judges that it harms public security or national defence (3). Appeal procedures of such decisions are mentioned in the law and the citizens can appeal before the authority of access to information and the Administrative Court. The Ministry of Defence has a section in its website dedicated to the access of administrative documents which specifies the persons in charge of exercising of this right, as well as the procedure and forms needed to exercise this right (4).

This indicator is not scored.

Law n°88-95, dated 2 August 1988, on archives, stipulates that exemptions to the obligation of the transfer of documents to the National Archive may be made by decree for reasons related to security (Article 13). (1) Furthermore, documents concerning national security cannot be communicated before sixty years have passed. The list of these documents relating to the national security must be established by decree. This being said, after a review of legislation relating to the defence and security sector, such decrees could not be found. No other publicly available sources provided more details on this matter. There is no evidence about the effectiveness of these mechanisms.

No statistics were found about how the Ministry of Defence handles requests for access to information (1). When reviewing decisions of the authority of access to information, a decision directing the Minister of Defence to release documents that did not pose a threat to national security has been found (2). According to our sources, information may be provided when asked for, but with some delays and exceptions (3).

There are no mechanisms or implementing guidelines that clearly stipulate access to information for the defence sector. It has previously been established that accessing information about the defence is extremely difficult and that there is a total lack of transparency in relation the defence sector in the country, and there is not an official way to access information about the defence. Information on the defence sector is highly confidential and attempts to get such information may subject the researcher or the journalist to persecution and imprisonment (1), (2), (3), (4).

This indicator is not assigned a score in the GDI.

It has been established that there is no clear legal framework stipulating access to information for the defence sector. It has also become clear that there is also no legal framework for the classification of information to ensure adequate data protection. Most information about the defence sector is considered classified, and they are treated as state secrets. This information includes the defence and security budgets, commercial enterprises, operations and purchases (1), (2), (3), (4). Internet-based research in both Arabic and English revealed that the UAE does not have any framework for the classification of official information, and internet searches mostly come up with results dealing with the UAE’s restrictions over the right to privacy and individual data protection and our interviews support this conclusion (5), (6).

This sub-indicator is not scored.

The public is rarely able to access information from the defence sector, if at all. Desk-based research showed that the UAE government does not provide any information about the defence sector, and all information related to the defence sector is considered confidential, and they are treated as state secrets.

Country Sort by Country 30a. Legal framework Sort By Subindicator 30b. Classification of information Sort By Subindicator 30c. Effectiveness Sort By Subindicator
Algeria 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Angola 50 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Burkina Faso 25 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Cameroon 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Cote d'Ivoire 50 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Egypt 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Ghana 25 / 100 NS 50 / 100
Jordan 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Kuwait 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Lebanon 50 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Mali 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Morocco 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Niger 50 / 100 NS 50 / 100
Nigeria 25 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Oman 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Palestine 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Qatar 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Saudi Arabia 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100
Tunisia 100 / 100 NS 50 / 100
United Arab Emirates 0 / 100 NS 0 / 100

With thanks for support from the UK Department for International Development and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have contributed to the Government Defence Integrity Index.

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