Editorial for 12 June: Good call on information law

Kudos to the members of the legislative committee and
subcommittee that wisely upheld certain aspects of Cayman’s Freedom of
Information Law.

Specifically, they said that those making FOI requests
should be able to continue doing so under the cloak of anonymity unless the
information sought could endanger the safety or health of someone.

What is refreshing is that the majority of public
authorities approached by the Information Unit in its review of the law
favoured keeping the anonymity clause.

They also agreed that no fees should be charged to those
making Freedom of Information requests.

It proves that FOI is indeed alive and well in the Cayman
Islands, which means easier access to government information by just about
anyone.

The process surrounding Cayman’s Freedom of Information
regime has proved itself over and over again to be credible and fair.

In fact, the Carter Center has referred to the Cayman
Islands as a shining example in the Caribbean of how FOI has worked and worked
well.

Our Freedom of Information Bill was introduced by the
People’s Progressive Movement and subsequently passed in September 2007 and
then implemented in January 2009. This one piece of legislation has brought
much more transparency to the government’s workings and helped hold elected
officials and public servants accountable to the chagrin of some.

While we have a pretty good track record so far on FOI,
there are still measures that government departments and agencies can take so
that FOI isn’t costly or difficult.

Many of the records sought under FOI should already be open
to the public.

The law still exempts information that would violate
Cayman’s security or hamper criminal investigations.

The subcommittee also agreed that records held by the
prosecutor’s office relating to ongoing court matters should be withheld until
they are made public in court.

While there are many protections under the FOI law, the
committee’s endorsement of anonymity and no fees is refreshing.

 

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