Nominations are now open for Cayman’s first FOI guardian.
While the information commissioner will be appointed by the Governor after consultation with Cabinet and a selection panel, opening the position to nominations will involve residents in the selection process.
According to the regulations, residents can nominate candidates so long as the persons agree in writing.
When nominating, residents should also be mindful that candidates cannot hold office in or be an employee of a political party, or hold a position in central or local government, elective or otherwise.
Anyone convicted of crimes of dishonesty or violence for which they have not been pardoned cannot be eligible for the post of Information Commissioner, according to the regulations.
Civil servants or government officials can apply or be nominated, with the provision that if appointed, they must resign their office(s) prior to taking up the position of Information Commissioner.
‘FOI is a law for the people, and if they don’t access it or own the process, it will languish,’ said FOI Coordinator Carole Excell. ‘This position is high profile and the person appointed will need to have considerable integrity and honesty. Objectivity, impartiality and independence are also vital qualities.’
All applicants and nominees will be scrutinised by a selection panel appointed by the Governor. The panel will be limited to five members and must include a member of the opposition and a member of the public.
Having reviewed the candidates the panel will publish a short list. After interviewing contenders, a recommendation will be made to the Governor.
‘The position of Information Commissioner is critical to the realisation of the FOI Law. While the FOI Unit has responsibility for implementing the law and its regulations, the Information Commissioner will have the duty to educate the public on their rights under the FOI Law; to ensure access to information as stated under the law and most importantly, to hear appeals on denied requests,’ Ms Excell explains.
The commissioner’s office will be empowered to determine whether public authorities have applied the FOI Law appropriately when refusing to grant access to certain information.
Other powers include ordering public entities to publish certain information, to change their record keeping practices, and/or to provide staff with the necessary training to fulfil their duty under the law.
When deciding on the legitimacy of an appeal, the commissioner may also ask staff to stand as witnesses, compel the production of evidence, and/or inspect records of the government agency in question.
When nominating someone for information commissioner, the nomination form should include:
Personal details of the person nominated:
Telephone contact number
Nominator’s personal details:
Telephone contact number
Relationship with person nominated
Nomination forms can be downloaded from www.foi.gov.ky or picked up from the FOI Office in Elizabethan Square.