Right to Know Week 2011 FOI requests are easy to push through

The Freedom of Information Law gives you a right to access certain records held by Government.

The Cayman Islands Government is divided into approximately 90 public authorities for the purpose of the FOI Law. Each public authority has a specially trained information manager, to whom you should send your request. IMs are required to help you identify the types of records held by their part of Government, and assist you with your FOI request.

Your request needs to be in writing (emails are accepted). You need to include some basic information in order to allow the IM to respond to your request.

These include:

A name (It does not have to be a real name. A fake name or pseudonym can be used);

An email or postal address. You may also chose to provide a phone number that you can be reached at;

As many details as you have about the record or information that you are asking for – e.g. the name or description of a document, the dates relevant to the information you are seeking, and what Department of Government or organization you think the record or information relates to;

The form of access preferred-e.g. electronic or photocopy.

The IM is required to acknowledge your application for a record within 10 days. Within 30 days of making your request, you should either receive the record you requested, or be given a reason (under the FOI Law) why the information you seek has not been made available to you. If you do not get a response to your request, or are not satisfied with the response you receive, please contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Public authorities are required to publish information about what they do and what records they hold, including a Publication Scheme. This information can normally be found on the website or at the offices of each authority. A master list of all Publication Schemes is also found on the ICO website.

Appeals to the ICO

If an IM does not provide you with the information that you require within 30 days, you should ask for an internal review of the decision that denied you access to the record. This review will be carried out by a more senior officer of the public authority and you should get a response in another 30 days.

If you are still not satisfied with the information you have received, or with how your request has been handled, you have the right to appeal your case to the Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert

The ICO is committed to ensuring that appeals are dealt with quickly and fairly.

During the initial investigation of your appeal, the ICO will contact you and the public authority with a view to establishing the facts and resolving the situation amicably if possible. (Remember that you can normally remain anonymous throughout the appeals process.)

If the matter is not resolved during the investigation, a formal hearing before the Information Commissioner may be held. This is usually a written hearing, and you as an applicant may make submissions to the Information Commissioner as to why you believe you should have access to the records in questions. However, you are not required to make a submission, as the burden of proof is on the public authority to prove that it has acted in accordance with its obligations under the FOI Law.

For more information about making an FOI request or filing an appeal, visit www.infocomm.ky or call 747-5402

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