In the 2011/2012 FOURTH QUARTER REPORT 1 April â€“ 30 June 2012 from the Cayman Islands Information Commissionerâ€™s Office (ICO) it noted the failure of some public authorities to meet their legal obligations in respect of properly responding to applications under the Law.
In some instances public authorities failed to properly identify and examine requested records before applying exemptions, and these tasks were only carried out when the ICO became involved (whether in an appeal or otherwise). This constituted a breach of the Law, and resulted in unnecessarily complicated and lengthy appeals, and a heavier workload for the ICO, and, eventually, the public authority itself. This was also reflected in the increasing need for the ICO to deal with procedural issues in the course of an appeal investigation or hearing.
Between 1 January and 31 March 2012, 118 Freedom of Information requests were logged by public authorities. This is a 39% decrease in requests over the previous period. Of the 118 requests received, 81 were closed during the same period. Requests received this period were received by 39 out of the 92 public authorities. The remaining 53 authorities did not log any FOI requests.
The ICO Commissioner, Jennifer Dilbert, made a statement in the Report under the Responsibility D Section: â€śREFER TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES CASES WHERE IT APPEARS THAT A CRIMINAL OFFENCE HAS BEEN COMMITTEDâ€ťTO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES CASES WHERE IT APPEARS THAT A
While the Commissioner continues to hope that her duties under this section will rarely present, unfortunately on at least two occasions, it appears that a public authority may have failed to identify records responsive to a request. The Commissioner reminds public authorities of section 55 of the FOI Law which states:
55. (1) A person commits an offence, if in relation to a record to which a right of
access is conferred under this Law, he-
(a) alters or defaces;
(b) blocks or erases;
(c) destroys; or
the record with the intention of preventing its disclosure.
(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on
summary conviction to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
In addition, section 43(3) of the FOI Law states that in her decision on any appeal, the Commissioner may:
(c) in cases of egregious or willful failures to comply with an obligation under this
Law, refer the matter to the appropriate disciplinary authority.
The Commissioner will not hesitate to enforce these sections of the Law where necessary.
In a statement Ms Dilbert issued last week she expressed disappointment with the Portfolio of the Civil Service and the Office of the Deputy Governor.
She said the government entity waited until the last minute to hand over documents she ordered released. It took the Portfolio of the Civil Service and the Office of the Deputy Governor 45 days to comply with a decision related to the recent recruitment of three senior civil servants.
Read the whole of the report at the following link: