NNA - Caretaker Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, launched this Tuesday the "Eye Police" application (In the Hands of Officials), in cooperation with the National News Agency (NNA) and Cyber Waves SAL, during a ceremony held at the UNESCO Palace in Beirut in the presence of ambassadors of Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, and the representatives of the ambassadors of UAE, Iran, Palestine, Qatar and China, and a score of ranking dignitaries, officials as well as security, media and diplomatic figures.
In his word on the occasion, Minister Riachy thanked Judge Fatima Al-Sayegh, “who has contributed with the Ministry of Information and the Civil Service Board to turning the MoI into a Ministry of Communication and Dialogue, and establishing new departments to be approved by the Council of Ministers soon."
"I would like to thank Judge Henry Khoury and all the judges of the State Council for agreeing on what Judge Sayegh and the Civil Service Board approved prior to referring the file to the Cabinet," he said, hoping the draft of turning the Ministry into that of Dialogue and Communication would soon be adopted by both the Cabinet and the Parliament.
"The Ministry will have a department of communication which will practically be the mediator of the republic. Its mission would be to relay the problems of the citizens to the officials. This is, in fact, a dual task. A major share of the responsibility shall be shouldered by the citizens who often deal with such matters with negativity," Riachy noted, stressing that without citizens, the State would cease to exist.
The caretaker minister called on citizens to "be the eyes of officials who cannot possibly see everything and be aware of all that is happening. They must alert officials and warn them of the things they fail to see. If those officials decide to turn a blind eye, then the Ministry of Information -- through the National News Agency -- would draw the attention of officials and citizens alike through the publication of the complaint on the NNA website.”
"Should this experiment succeed, it will then be put on the Cabinet table, in the hands of [President] Aoun and [PM] Hariri for proper studying," Riachy added, hoping this application would be made useful by all officials, ministries and departments through the National News Agency, with the possibility of adopting it at Lebanon Radio and Tele Liban.
He finally called upon citizens to cooperate with officials and steer clear of debates and insults across social media platforms, "in order for this pioneering experience to reach everyone."
Director of the National News Agency, Laure Sleiman, also delivered a speech on the occasion whereby she said: "To be the voice of the people is a major responsibility, let alone being the watchful eye. This is, indeed, an ever bigger responsibility laid upon our shoulders by the Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, to act as a mediator between officials and citizens, conveying the latter's problems and working on having them resolved by putting them 'in the hands of officials' as soon as possible, in cooperation with concerned departments within the State through this special smart phones application named 'Eye Police'."
"Some may wonder why the Information Minister assigned this task to the NNA, even though it is a news agency and not a complaints platform. To that we say: (…) we pledge to be the loud voice on behalf of citizens; a voice that will resound in officials minds until citizens' problems are solved. We will not stand alone, however. We will work in close cooperation with all the ministries and departments. This responsibility, which was assigned to us, will be temporary, until the new structure of the Ministry of Information is approved and the Dialogue and Communication Department is formed to handle such tasks," said Sleiman.
"This step aims to deal positively with solutions, not to attack State apparatuses and departments through social media or through the media. Officials should not be informed of arising problems via Twitter or Facebook. We have to be the mediator of the republic, relaying the problem directly from the citizen to the official. If the official does not care about addressing that problem or solving it, only then will we help the citizen transmit the issue to the media," she explained.
"I would like to point out that prizes will be awaiting people who will report serious irregularities that highlight citizens' problems. After studying the issue's seriousness, the complainant will be granted points that qualify them for the prize," Sleiman added, thanking the Minister of Information "for the trust he has put in the NNA" and hoping "to shoulder this responsibility to the fullest."
Sleiman also thanked Cyber Waves SAL for providing this application, and praised all the State departments and ministries that have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the NNA for the sake of this mission's success.
Eye Police Director, Batoul El Sherif, then made a detailed presentation of the new application.
Director of "Cyber Waves", Riad Qahwaji, in turn, said "I am delighted and honored to be present today to participate in the launching of ‘Eye Police’ for which I have high hopes in terms of fighting against corruption and the promotion of security and stability by activating the citizens' role in monitoring and taking responsibility for their country and society."
"The idea behind Eye Police came from young Lebanese provoked by the scenes of corruption in all its forms, which led them to devise a mechanism for monitoring and reporting, so as to give incentives to citizens and encourage them to play the role expected from them in detecting violations and threats across the homeland, and giving the concerned bodies the information and evidence required to carry out their tasks, thus promoting a secure, just and stable society," he said.
"We chose to offer this application, free of charge, to the Lebanese State so it could be the first and the most beneficiary in fighting against corruption and promoting security and stability. We also rely on the support of the private sector in the development and management of this application and its continuity," Qahwaji added, calling upon the private sector to sponsor this application as it is the top beneficiary of the battle against corruption.
"We do not expect the road to be smooth. The forces of darkness which wreak havoc in the country will fight against us with all their strength (...) but we will not back down," he pledged.