The Office of the Complaints Commissioner has received legal advice asserting it is a crime to make public a report issued by him in response to a complaint made by a member of the public against a government entity.
A press release issued Tuesday stated that the legal advice came after a question arose whether his report on the complaint filed by Cayman Net Ltd. against Cayman Airways could be made public with the consent of one or both parties.
‘The consent of the parties in not relevant to the questions of whether the decision can be made public,’ the press release stated. ‘This is a matter for the Commissioner alone.’
Under section 16 (1) of the Complaints Commissioner Law, there is an express prohibition on the Commissioner to disclose information in the course of or for the purpose of his investigation.
‘This prohibition is no doubt motivated by the public policy requirement that witnesses should feel free to disclose matters to the Commissioner in confidence and without fear that such disclosure will be made public,’ the press release stated. ‘This encourages members of the public to come forward and participate in the investigation and ensures that the investigation can be as thorough and comprehensive as possible.
‘It is in the nature of the matters being investigated that some persons may feel inhibited from providing information if they believed that it would subsequently be made public.’
As a result of a filed complaint, the Complaints Commission can only disclose enough information as necessary to provide cogent reasons for his decisions. The Complaint Commissioner’s legal advice also asserted he is required to impose a strict confidentiality provision, as was done with the recent report he made with regard to a complaint filed by Androgroup Elevator Ltd. against the Building Control Unit of the Planning Department.
However, the Complaints Commissioner can still make a report on a specific complaint public. Section 18(3) of the Complaints Commissioner Law allows him to lay a special report before the Legislative Assembly ‘where the Commissioner has made a recommendation for action to be taken by a government entity as a result of an injustice sustained by an aggrieved person and the government entity has not acted appropriately as regards to the recommendations’, the press release stated.
In addition, the Complaints Commissioner can make a special report to the Legislative Assembly where: he has conducted an investigation on his own initiative or pursuant to a recommendation of the Legislative Assembly; where he has discovered misconduct and he has referred the matter to another body; where he is required to lay annual reports before the Legislative Assembly; and where he is reporting on the inequitable or unreasonable nature or operation of enactments or rules of law.