Use your right to probe government says info boss

| 24/09/2009

(CNS): The country’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is urging people to use the law to exercise their right to know what the government is doing. Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert said that the law was an essential part of democracy and that the ICO would be using the forthcoming annual International Right to Know Day, celebrated on 28 September, to promote the importance and benefits of government openness and accountability in any democratic society. Meanwhile, Natasha Bodden, a trained lawyer and former policy analyst has been named as the FOI Unit’s acting co-ordinator.

The ICO, which works with but is separate from the FOI, will be hosting a full week of FOI themed events from 27 September to 3 October to promote its 9 month old law and educate the public of their rights afforded under that law. The ICO said the message for this year is Exercise Your Rights – Make a Request.

“Freedom of Information Legislation is paramount to a democratic and forward thinking society which is why promoting this new law and educating the public on how they can use it is essential to its continued success” said Dilbert. “By introducing this Law in our Islands our government, both past and present, has demonstrated that it is wholly committed to an open and transparent government that is fully accountable to its people in accordance with core principles of democracy”.

The FOI law gives everyone, from anywhere in the world, of any age and without giving a reason, the right to access all government held records, subject to a few limited exceptions.  To make an FOI request, simply contact the relevant public authority and submit your application. The public authority must respond within 30 days and if it refuses your request you can appeal.

During the FOI week the commissioner and her staff will be hosting an afternoon tea from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at the ICO in Elizabethan Square (above the Thai Restaurant), where staff will be on hand to answer questions and offer guidance on how the public can make FOI requests.

There will be a rolling presentation highlighting various aspects of the ICO’s work. This event is open to the public and all are welcome to come along and to learn about the role of the ICO and to get assistance with making a request. Other Right to Know Week activities include the Information Commissioner’s appearance on CITN’s Daybreak, the Rooster Crosstalk Show, Radio Cayman’s Talk Today and presentations to the Sunrise Rotary and Rotary Grand Cayman Clubs.

On Friday, 2 October  the commissioner and her deputy, Gary Cordes, will be visiting Cayman Brac to open the Sister Islands Information Commissioner’s Office and host a number of other events. ICO staff will be visiting the Brac periodically during the year to further promote FOI and to assist individuals. The week concludes with a Right to Know Fun Walk / Run / Ride-a-thon on Saturday, October 3rd.  This event is hosted by the FOI Unit, who in previous years hosted the Sunshine Walk. 

The unit, which is part of the Cabinet Office, monitors and supports government’s internal policies, programmes and procedures arising from the ongoing implementation of the Freedom of Information Law.

The new unit co-ordinator said this week that she will strive to ensure that the FOI unit continues to promote transparency and accountability within government, and carries on training civil servants to understand their duties and responsibilities under the law. “We are thrilled with the prospect of helping to create data protection legislation for the Cayman Islands, as this goes hand-in-hand with FOI. I look forward to dealing with the challenges of the next few years.”  

For application forms and further information on events, please call 747-5402 or visit

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  1. Anonymous says:

    All this Unit and the Complaints Commissioner’s office does is self promotion. This is aimed at convincing the average folk whose tax dollars pay their fat cat salaries that they are necessary.

    Both of these offices will cost us the tax payers about $2 million per year, in these current financial times, can we afford this type of cost so we can bi*ch about the lazy people at Customs or the rude people at Immigration? Oh perhaps it’s so that we can go snooping around Government Departments for people’s salary.

    Speaking of which, can you imagine the shamless galls of the information Commissioner to put her appointment letter online showing an annual salary of over $130,000 per annum. Now tell me, what about this job merits that kind of compensation.

    I believe these are some of the first places that fat trimming should begin in Government before we start talking about implementing income taxes.



  2. Anonymous says:

    Another non-job courtesy of the UK.

  3. Twyla Vargas says:

    WHY IS IT that the District of Bodden Town does not have an  MLA Office?

    • Anonymous says:

      yes why bodden town doesnt have an MLA office isnt it strange that after the election that the udp office in george town  is closed down,was it just there to win the election? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why waste money on an office if you have no representatives.

      Tony represents savannah.

      Mark and the other is not legal representatives having broken the election Law.

      Get real Bodden Town. You have no reps to occupy an office.

  4. Anonymous says:

    All I have seen as an accomplishment thus far and since we have this new Commissioner is a littel Flyer IJunk Mail) and complaints about to much work and she needs more empoyees!!???

  5. Anonymous says:

    Who will be working in the Sister Islands office? Have not seen any ads for this position to be filled – or will they be staffing the office from Grand Cayman periodically??? Just wondering any answers anyone????

    • Twyla Vargas says:

      08:48 WORKING The sister Islands office, I wish I could answer you, but I got an eyes full looking out for Bodden Town. 

      Other comments refered that,  Mr Eden is working for Savannah and the other two is illegal representatives.  This I must say is absolutely amaing………………The majority of Bodden Town people must feel like idiots for what they did at the polls.  How the hell can they have voted for three people that is not working together is beyond me.  Believe me, this crap has to stop.  Anthony, Mark and John has been elected for the district of Bodden Town, I want someone to give me a good, very good reason, why we dont even see one of them.  Are they still working?  And I am addressing all three because I really dont care whether they are PPM, UDP or ITC, Independent  Team Cayman, I want to know that they are talking to each other and making good plans for this district.  It is not good enough to hear one is working here, and no one knows where thed other two are……………..that is not good enough.  As for me I hold no grudges, our short time on this planet should not be taken up with that.  Remember, Husbands and wives disagree…………but if at the end of they day they dont make up, the race on earth would die out.  " Do you follow me"?  Bodden Town representatives,  It is time to come together as one.  Forget about who voted for PPM, UDP, or ITC.  By being separated you are killing your district.  You dont have to take my advice, but you sure can think about it.  Walk good.