Bahamas Bar Association President Kahlil Parker yesterday called for the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.
Parker made his call while speaking at the ceremony to mark the Opening of the Legal Year.
He said, “We cannot reasonably be asked to continue to rely upon or trust the goodwill and bona fides of those who happen to hold elected office not to abuse their borrowed powers. Our constitution does not require that of us. We must, and do, insist that the rule of law is observed and preserved in spirit and practice.
“The informational asymmetry between the government and the governed highlighted by a global pandemic, and the measures taken to address it, further demonstrates the urgency of the need for the Freedom of Information Act, 2017, and not just a single section thereof, to be brought into full force and effect.
“The stated objectives of the said act, namely the reinforcement and giving of further effect to fundamental principles underlying our constitutional democracy, namely: governmental accountability; transparency; and public participation in national decision making, are laudable and urgent needs as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and, hopefully, the post-COVID-19 environment.”
Parker commended the chief justice for the new practice of advertising judicial vacancies.
He said, “This answer to the Bar Association’s public calls for a national commitment to ensuring meritocracy, transparency and due process in the appointment of all judges and judicial and legal officers, bodes well for the deepening of our democracy and the preservation of the rule of law.
“Every tribunal member, magistrate, registrar, and justice of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal ought to be able to trace their appointment to an open application process pursuant to a properly published public advertisement for that vacant judicial post.”
Parker said that he hoped that the prime minister would implement the same transparency in the appointment of Court of Appeal judges.