September 25, 2020

Right to Know Week 2014

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2014-09-04_17-37-45Joint Statement of the Deputy Governor Mr. Franz Manderson, and Acting Information Commissioner, Mr. Jan Liebaers.

We are pleased to jointly launch the 2014 Right to Know Week celebrations. This is the sixth year that the right to access government records has been celebrated in the Cayman Islands, and this year’s theme is “It’s Yours… Just Ask!”.

Right to Know Week is the highpoint of the Information Commissioner’s Office’s promotional schedule. It aims is to create greater awareness of Freedom of Information in the general public, but it is also an opportunity for all civil servants and members of the general public alike to reflect upon the important access rights we enjoy, as enshrined in the Constitution and embodied in the Freedom of Information Law.

10399987_10154632162665581_4723839988075812569_nApart from many activists and private individuals with personal reasons for requesting information from government, it is well known that the press is a major user of the Right to Know. Rarely does a week go by when a major news story is not published, based on information disclosed under the FOI Law.

Indeed, in recent months, FOI itself has on occasion been the focus of a number of stories and analysis.

Whether these stories draw our attention to things that are going well, or things that could go better, there is no doubt that they testify to the vibrant regime of openness that exists in the Cayman Islands today. Well over 3,500 requests have been made since the FOI Law first came into effect in January

2009, and Government provides more information upfront than ever before.

A recent editorial in the newspaper made the point that it would be desirable to make government so open that the Information Commissioner’s Office would become redundant. We agree with this sentiment, although even in a utopian vision like that an independent Commissioner would still have to decide those cases where a record is withheld.

There is no good reason why information that ought to be readily available – and in most developed countries around the world is readily available – should only be disclosed after an FOI request has been made. That approach is inefficient and simply wastes everyone’s time. Openness and accountability are the law of the land and constitute key elements of Cayman’s thriving democracy. The much heralded cultural shift towards openness is an ongoing process, and almost 6 years after the FOI law came into effect it is time we look for new ways of making information available proactively.

That is why the Deputy Governor has taken the initiative to require the proactive disclosure of travel expenses and summaries of credit card expenses, an initiative the Acting Information Commissioner fully supports. However, there is much more that each government entity can do to make their information routinely available without need to resort to the often lengthy FOI process, while still protecting exempted information.

The FOI regime in the Cayman Islands is undoubtedly vibrant, but it also requires constant vigilance, support and much hard work, not least from the Information Managers in the public authorities who are the “boots on the ground” of FOI. We would both like to take this opportunity to thank Information Managers and their Deputies across the public sector for their hard work “above and beyond” in often challenging circumstances, and renew our commitment to make sure that they have the tools they need to continue making their important contributions to the success of the FOI Law.

Civil servants and members of the public are invited and encouraged to join us and dress down in blue on Friday, 26 September, and remember: “It’s Yours… Just Ask”.

END

The Cayman Islands joins over 80 countries around the word in celebrating International Right to Know Day on September 28th.
While the importance of openness and transparency is increasingly recognized and translated into Freedom of Information legislation
around the world, the Cayman Islands remains one of the trail blazers in the Caribbean in this regard. The theme for this year is
“It’s Yours….Just Ask” and the ICO team will be out throughout the week distributing information, interacting with the public and
answering questions on how you can use the FOI Law to access government records.

What’s Happening?

  • Friday, September 26th – The Government Administration Building, 9:00-11:00am
  • Friday, September 26th – DRESS DOWN in BLUE and show your support for FOI and Right to Know Week
  • Saturday, September 27th – Market at the Grounds, 7:00am onwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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