No progress made on the review of FOI law

| 16/12/2013

(CNS): According to the latest quarterly report released by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), no progress has been made on the review of the law under which freedom of information operates in the Cayman Islands. The law itself mandated a review of the legislation after its first year to gauge how it was working in practice and give legislators an opportunity to correct any issues resulting from the day to day use of the law.  While Jennifer Dilbert, the soon to be retired commissioner, and her team completed the review over three years ago, the government has not yet acted on it and the ICO says that the review will need to be reviewed now as a result of the time lapse.

“Given the time elapsed since the Information Commissioner submitted recommendations in September of 2010, the ICO will be reviewing the Committee’s Report and making further recommendations as soon as possible,” ICO officials said in their first quarter report for this financial year.

The report, which was made public last week covers the work of the office between the start of the 2013/14 financial year on 1 July until the end of September. The report also looks at the statistics and found that between 1 April and 30 June, 144 freedom of information requests were logged into the central FOI tracking system by public authorities. This represents a 50% increase compared to the same period in 2012. Of the requests received, 99 were closed during the same period and 44 remained open. A total of 29 out of 92 public authorities received requests.

Having dealt with 133 appeals since the office opened, the ICO said that many appeals are made to the ICO because of poor procedural handling of requests by public authorities and the officials noted that public authorities are not as cooperative as they should be.

“Over the past several months it has become evident that some public authorities have dealt poorly with requests before they reach the ICO as an appeal,” the report reveals. “Once an appeal is accepted and a pre-hearing investigation has started, some public authorities are still not fully cooperating with the ICO, and are even reluctant to do so when a formal Hearing has commenced, in contradiction to the applicable policies and procedures.”

As a result, the office will be focusing its next Information Managers Seminar Series on the public authority’s role in an appeal.

In the meantime, the ICO has been keen to conduct a number of own-initiative investigations under section 46 as a result of procedural concerns but a shortage of staff and resources alongside the growing number and complexity of appeals meant these have had to be postponed.

However, a small boost in the ICO budget in the 2013/14 financial year has seen staffing levels improve and the recruitment of a senior analyst at the very end of the quarter has meant that some of those investigations have now been started.

Category: FOI

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why don't we combine the post of the Information Commissioner and the Complaints Commissioner and have just one person fulfilling these limited responsibilities and one set of staff supporting him/her? Cayman needs to get away from these "empires" created to give prestige and big salaries to certain people.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suppose then we would only have one person who the politicians ignore. 

    • And AnotherTing says:

      Listen up, this review is highly important, but ya na want to tax those poor men head anymore right now. They have a lot on their plate and Jah knows they can't get a handle on most like the economy to be able to ensure that the economy is going on and that people have jobs, that people are educated, that the police stop crime, that our passports don't get printed in mothers house, that the conservationists have their day, that fresh turkey's ad ham are available for the SeAson, and Liebers want them to deal with WAaaaaa FOI, man what a job! Fe dem. And Another.Ting