Editorial for December 13: Transparency is a must in Gov’t

It would appear that some of the
members of the Legislative Assembly are losing sight of the forest for the
trees.

Members of the House took umbrage
at an article and editorial in last Wednesday’s edition of the Caymanian Compass
concerning Freedom of Information meetings that will be held outside the public
domain and without benefit of continual attendance by FOI Commissioner Jennifer
Dilbert.

There was nothing factually wrong
with our Page 1 article on the meetings.

We stated that a six-member
Legislative Assembly subcommittee is to begin meeting in camera – defined via
the Encarta Dictionary as in private or in secret; in a court from which the
public is barred – this month to review Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law.

The law review is mandated in the
FOI legislation, which took effect on 5 January, 2009, and calls for the legal
review 18 months following the implementation of the open records law.

But just because the law review
says that the meetings can be held in secret doesn’t mean they have to be.
Lawmakers can easily suspend Standing Orders to make the meetings public. As a
matter of practice, lawmakers vote to suspend Standing Orders fairly frequently.
The real question now is, will they in this case?

As for impugning the integrity of
any sitting member of the Legislative Assembly, we have to say ‘the lady and
gentlemen doth protest too much’.

Our editorial was meant to bring to
the attention of the public – many of which voted for the people sitting in the
honourable House – a lack of transparency in government, especially concerning
something so important as the freedom of information in this county.

There is a genuine concern the
world over that governments are not forthcoming with information to the public;
that decisions and policies are being made without input from the people who
elected those who are making crucial decisions.

But apparently it is easier to
attempt to ‘prosecute’ a reporter and a newspaper than to hold meetings about
the FOI law in public.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Eloquently put Compass. This should have been what was discussed in the LA last week! Freedom of information, freedom of the press, freedom to have an opinion = things Cayman needs to promote as of right – like the rest of the civilised world.

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  2. Mr. Miller’s chest thumping comments ‘they have broken the law – they must be prosecuted…’……are a little bit misplaced. Even IF the Compass has broken any law and it would appear questionable that they have, may I turn the Hon. Gentleman’s attention to a matter where there is absolutely no doubt that the law has been broken – over and over and over again – and it continues to this day…..I refer to the continual flaunting of the Financial laws by the Civil Servants who fail to provide accounts for audit. When are they to be held accountable???

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