Today’s Editorial for April 30: FOI takes centre stage

Demonstrators in Lima, Peru, this week showed exactly what happens when countries fail to enact proper freedom of information legislation.

The women who delayed the start of the Americas Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information conference were protesting their inability to access a government-subsidised milk programme. The Peruvian prime minister rightly pointed out to those at the conference that had the women had the information they needed about the milk programme, they wouldn’t have been protesting and he wouldn’t have been late to open the meeting.

Much has been done throughout the Americas to ensure freedom of information but no one should become complacent.

The Caymanian Compass and Cayman Free Press are passionate about freedom of information. That’s why we made the decision to let one of our journalists attend the conference in Peru. Also there is FOI Unit Coordinator Carole Excell who is also passionate bout the legislation.

What they learned in the first day of the conference is that in almost every jurisdiction that has FOI in place, it is only being used by a small percentage of the population.

We’re finding that in the Cayman Islands people are making about 100 FOI requests per month. While that’s good, it isn’t enough.

We would safely bet that the people making the requests are just about the same month after month.

It is imperative that everyone in the Cayman Islands takes advantage of the FOI tool to learn more about the government agencies that we have to interact with on a daily basis.

Aren’t you curious about why and how decision s are made concerning our schools, the port, roads, tourism or development? Send in an FOI request.

We hear every year that some students can’t get government scholarships. Why? Send in an FOI request.

Use FOI to find out about your rights under the law concerning health insurance, immigration or pension.

Wonder how contracts are awarded, government staff is recruited or how policy decisions are made? Make an FOI request.

If you need some help in forming your request, visit the FOI unit’s website at www.foi.gov.ky

Cayman Free Press and its various publications have made several FOI requests. In most cases, the information has been delivered in a timely manner and we’ve been able to report on issues that affect our daily lives.

FOI is important. It’s there to help us all.

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