Govt urged to speed up enactment of FOIA

With an information commissioner yet to be appointed, Organization for Responsible Governance Executive Director Matt Aubry is calling for movement on the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“We understood that an information commissioner was being considered and we submitted some ideas and some thoughts on folks we thought would serve well,” Aubry told The Nassau Guardian.

“Those were received and we hope were considered, but we did understand that there would be a named information commissioner before the end of last year and that has come and passed. So, we are really urging government to move forward on this, because it’s not something you want to sit on.

“If we don’t move forward on this, it doesn’t give the public the right to get information. It doesn’t create transparency and it doesn’t create the trust in government that is crucial for full democracy and for effective and efficient government.”

Ahead of the 2017 general election, the Free National Movement repeatedly promised the full enactment of FOIA.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said last May it will be fully enacted by May 2020.

He said the government was searching for an information commissioner with the intention of having the post filled by the end of 2019.

Aubry said he understands that the full enactment can be a lengthy process, but said it is for that reason that there must be more urgent movement on the issue.

“What we understand about the process of implementation of a bill like this is, because the government needs to prepare to be able to respond to requests and share information across the board, it does take anywhere between a year and a half to three years from when they start to really get the full enactment,” he said.

“So, we understand that this is a [time consuming] process. But that makes it even more important that there is movement on this and it becomes a priority. “

When asked about the matter yesterday, Bethel said there was no update.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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