Info boss says FOI essential part of democracy

| 21/09/2011

(CNS): The information commissioner said that the Freedom of Information Law (FOI Law) not only provides the public with a right and a way to access government records but it is essential to ensuring that we live in an effective democracy. As her team begins the preparation for the country’s third “Right to Know Week” (RTK) which starts this weekend Jennifer Dilbert said the office will be using the time to remind people about the importance of the law and how they can use it to ensure they make government accountable.

“The ability to access information is fundamental,” Dilbert stated.  “People must be able to ascertain that government is accountable for its policies and decisions.  The FOI Law is an important tool that the public can use to stay informed about how their country is being managed” states the Commissioner.” 

Since the legislation has been implemented government has slowly begun to recognize its need to be accountable to the people and the civil service is going through a cultural shift from an organisation that once guarded information withferocity to one that is gradually learning to share. The law has enabled debate to open in the public domain about how government is being managed and allowed people to question their representatives more effectively having access to more facts about how government is managed and how public resources are being used.

However, the commissioner’s office continues to do battle with public authorities over the procedures surrounding the law and the need to publish more information on websites. The commissioner also continues to push the point in her decisions that public authorities should be using the law to release information and not using it to find ways of keeping public information under wraps.

The information commissioner’s office will be doing a series of outreach meetings throughout next week beginning on Saturday 24 September with a visit by the team to the Market at the Grounds in Lower Valley, where the public can learn how they can use the FOI Law to get more involved with their community. 

This is the third annual RTK week hosted by the ICO, which was established in January 2009 soon after the law came into effect.  The information commissioner is everyone to learn more about how they can benefit from the FOI provisions during the special week which is themed ‘Information is Key’ this year.

International Right to Know Day is on Wednesday 28 September when over 90 countries and territories worldwide that have enacted access to information legislation mark its importance. A special seminar for government officials including presentations by the governor and the premier will take place on Wednesday morning.

Other events include student and service club presentations, a GIS Spotlight TV segment, and a series of articles in the local media.  The ICO will also be hosting several training sessions for government employees towards the end of the week.  A special service at Agape Family Worship Centre will be held on Sunday the 25 September at 10am and all are invited to attend. 

As part of the public outreach, staff from the ICO will be available to answer questions and speak with the public about the FOI Law on Monday the 26th between 9am-12pm at the George Town Hospital and on Wednesday the 28th between 11am-2pm at the new Government Administration Building. 

For more information on the RTK activities, or if you are not satisfied with the response to a request you have made, contact the ICO on 747-5405 or info@infocomm.ky

 

Category: FOI

Comments (4)

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  1. The other Madame Speaker says:

    I agree Mrs. Dilbert you are doing a great job, and thank you for keeping the country transparent, because if we had to leave it up to the idiots running it now we wouldn't hear a peep and all be blindsided by their bullshit on a hourly basis.

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    FOI – so important for democracy – so opposed by some politicians,

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yawn! Cayman has far more pressing issues to focus on these days than FOI.

    • Anonymous 45 says:

      Are you suggesting that good governance and civil rights are any less valid because some immature criminals started killing eachother and terrorizing society?   Whatever the headlines might say, and no matter how sad and upsetting they are these days, our democratic rights must continue and government must remain accountable for its actions – all the more so in a crisis situation, I would think!