On 1 July 2012, Yemen marked a milestone in its transition to democratic government by passing the Right to Information Law. An analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy using the RTI Rating Methodology found that the Law scored 105 points, putting Yemen in a tie for 17th place in the world, alongside Finland and Nepal, and significantly ahead of its counterparts in Jordan (which scored 56) and Tunisia (89).
However, the legislative process was not without difficulties. Parliament passed an earlier version of the Law in April, which Yemen’s President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi refused to sign. In response, the draft was significantly weakened, eliminating most protections for whistleblowers and removing the limited public interest override.
“Although it would have been preferable if the amendments had not been introduced, the fact remains the Law provides a robust legal basis for a strong right to information system in Yemen,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy.“CLD calls on the Yemeni authorities to engage in a positive way with implementation of the Law, so as to ensure that their citizens really benefit in practice from the right to information.”
CLD also hopes that the passage of a strong RTI law by Yemen spurs similar positive action in other Arab countries, particularly Egypt and Morocco, both of which are considering passage of their own right to information laws.
A Note on the changes to the Law, the results of the RTI Rating, and an unofficial translation of Yemen’s Right to Information Law conducted by CLD are available at: http://www.law-democracy.org/?p=2293