Freedom of Information Underpins Strong Democracy

There has been so much palaver about the pressing need to implement transparency legislation. Specifically a Freedom of Information Act.  It is one of those issues political parties refer to on a campaign trail because it fits with the political rhetoric these days about promises to root out corruption in government blah blah blah…

Trinidad implemented a Freedom of Information Act in 1999 and serves as a model for Barbados to look to. What are the learnings so far? Read what Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond is saying.  – David Blogmaster

The ongoing Information War is increasingly driven by the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA), which in 1999 created the right to obtain information held by Public Authorities, subject to certain limitations as to State security and private or commercial information.

The relationship between a bank and its customers is a useful analogy to understand these principles. The customer depositing money into her account does so for safekeeping and to earn some small interest. Although the bank is responsible for that money, at no point in time is it the property of the bank – indeed, it is a liability in the bank’s accounts. The bank merely has custody of that money and must follow the customer’s lawful instructions as to how that money is dealt with.

The FoIA at S.4 defines ‘official documents’ held by Public Authorities as – “…a document is held by a public authority if it is in its possession, custody or power…”.

Full text @ Afra Raymond.net

 

21 comments

  • Before the 1976 elections, the BLP promised it was going to establish integrity legislation. Forty-six years later, the people of Barbados are still waiting. Barbados cannot even get its libel laws( draconian in nature) changed. It is futile to even expect a freedom of information act. This country is so secretive that its right hand does not know what the left is doing. If Gaston Browne had not exposed the proposed sale of LIAT, many Barbadians would not have known. Thank God for the internet: and now we have a total idiot of a senator, talking about curbing the social media.

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  • @Dr.Lucas

    We have many examples to show the sincerity (will) of both DLP and BLP through the years. Implementing transparency legislation is one. The government has the political stock to do whatever it wants. Mia has shown a bravery to implement austerity measures. Why not the same for transparency legislation?

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  • Crooks don’t give any freedoms, BFP give Freedom of Information for years, Liar just can’t take the truth, We pass that law a long time, by just doing, , All who expect free truth from crooks liars and scumbags has to be a fool, Keep waiting while we will keep doing, If we had freedom of information in Barbados these crooks could never hide in Office , From your Auntie-Man Crime Minister, GG, AG, COP DPP and many lawyers and government and Union heads are crooks all the same and alike, Overpaid to shut up now looking for from a new party every 6 months to continue the same she-it, BLPpat 3 and Part 4 action up hiding in the Public,

    Bajan Free Party will help you see all the slaves in government,

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  • David

    FOI makes no sense unless there is a constitutional right to recall (RTR)

    When are we going to learn that a guillotine must be constantly held over the necks of the political elites.

    All these pseudo-democratic mantras serve to protect the elite by making it seem that they are being totally transparent.

    And talking about transparency (legislation), what has become of that.

    Is that one (mantra) out of usage now?

    The politician are laughing at we.

    Let us laugh back with our favoured instrument of correction.

    How come after all the promises by Mugabe and co, we still can’t have transparency legislation one year in?

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  • @ David
    You can hold your breath and wait for implementation: From experience, there is little difference between local politicians of either party.. It suits both parties to have the status quo maintained. This country is really a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. Trinidad is a much more democratic country than Barbados. Barbados reminds me of the “Comedians” by Graham Greene.

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  • @Pacha

    What the T&T experience has exposed so far is that in small countries transparency legislation is not the silver bullet. We will have to do more to hold officials accountable. The challenge as always is that the people we are wanting to hold accountable have to be the ones to lead the charge. The people must continue to push. Unlike other countries who are not averse to shedding blood and rioting in the street, we are of a more civilized disposition.

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  • David
    We were the ones telling you that the transparency legislation that Mugabe was promising during the elections was a nonsense in the absence of a right to recall, remember?

    It did not dampen your excitement then!

    A right to recall is the guillotine to demand and command the transformation we need.

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  • William Skinner

    Have to agree with Pacha. One suspects that even with FOI on the statute books along with Integrity Legislation, nothing would really change. Imagine we talk about ministers and others declaring assets but these assets are only known to a cabinet secretary. How much wiser is the public ? FOI is legislated but depending on the media house , nothing negative about the favoured party , is allowed to be published by the editors. Who is going to get the information out to the public ? Would the legislation really put power in the peoples’ hands?
    In terms of Integrity legislation: if a politician declares assets of say two million , would the FOI allow a citizen to investigate if he or she paid the required taxes over the years , the wealth was accumulated ? We talk about corruption ; ran an entire campaign on corruption and then claimed there is no evidence of corruption but those who are corrupt, were told about a “come to Jesus moment”. The intention was never to fight corruption but to offer protection to their friends and cohorts.
    We talk about freedom of information but what about the Public Order Act and freedom of expression.? Under the Public Order Act, if you go on a public platform and say white people too often , you can be arrested or charged for inciting racial division. So having FOI and Integrity legislation but still keeping the Public Order Act enforced really equals zero !
    Switch and bait.

    More to come

    Duopoly Rules

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  • Sir William

    Is quite right!

    These are only more highly sophisticated duopoly games being played with us.

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  • @Pacha

    Is the process being manipulated or are we witnessing an organic iteration of a relatively young democratic system.

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  • David

    You may select to hide under that intellectual rock if you wish but we seek no such comfort.

    We supported this government about the economic actions taken.

    This same government has found it fit to change the constitution for far less critical matters.

    And now it comes to maybe the most important issue emerging from the last regime we are to be satisfied with talk about “process manipulation’, ‘organic iteration’ and ‘relatively young democratic system’.

    David please, you are far too intelligent for this kind of stalling talk.

    We serve you warning that the longer this government lasts, the more likely we are to be in the position ante. Duopoly rules!

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  • A strong democracy needs a strong leadership, a strong government and a strong parliamentary majority. We have all that. So the recent elections have strengthened democracy. Corruption in Barbados is now virtually eradicated, because a bankrupt state can no longer award contracts anyway.

    But even Tron is waiting for the new anti-corruption law … Some experts have told me that we should wait for the outcome of the trial against Inniss. So a former DLP minister is to blame for the fact that the new strict anti-corruption rules are not yet in force. This once again confirms the old prejudice that DLP is responsible for everything bad.

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  • @Pacha

    We are not that far apart. Still reluctant to call for the guillotine.

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  • David

    If the real one is too hot to handle, the metaphorical one may have some reliability

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  • Tron, you don’t get tired talking shite?

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  • Lady Donna

    Wha happen

    Don’t let nuhbody upset yuh!

    David

    Yes, we aint too far apart

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  • William Skinner

    @ Pacha

    You seem so concerned of my “contigence” with Hal but I have no problem with your beautiful relationship with David. LOL

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  • Sir William Skinner

    That would not be our characterization

    We, as well as David, reserve the right to cuss all and sundry.

    However, we can’t say that for you both, cussing we mean!

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  • The EVIL BARBADOS’ GOVERNMENTS DID to their own people….is now FOLLOWING THEM around like the corrupt CANCER they all are..

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  • Piece the Legend

    @ Donna,

    Tron IS NOT TALKIN shit.

    Take a careful read of what he writes.

    He always says sanctimonious things about Mugabe.

    Soft superlatives praising Mugabe and telling us we should be grateful.

    Watch his style carefully!

    Look at the words he uses and the final construct of his submissions,

    He is the Most Dangerous of All the Dissenters against Mugabe here.

    I fear him because he does not need to pause to create these false fawnings to Mugabe

    He automatically can generate this output, he is like a Walter PPK, a man who though I often clashed with, could and cannot but respect his acuity.

    In fact, in his recent incarnation, you cannot but admire his verbal skill and commitment to the role he has adopted.

    But it is the “metre” which gives you away after a time.

    Your natural cadence to express a thought in x sentences, followed possibly by an example to reinforce your thoughts.

    If you “look” carefully you can “see” the unmistakable style

    Over time Tron achieves his target and he never varies his objective

    So he is a professional at his craft.

    Heheheheh

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  • “Corruption in Barbados is now virtually eradicated, because a bankrupt state can no longer award contracts anyway.”

    LIES….this government is EXCEEDINGLY CORRUPT….and it become even MORE EVIDENT…when president Mia TRIED AND FAILED….to spread that CORRUPTION…around the Caribbean, but PM Browne was having NONE AH DAT….

    and….she tried AND FAILED to spread that EVIL CORRUPTION BAJAN STYLE across Canada,UK, and US…in all her DELUSIONS….but NO ONE is putting up with any of her BACKWARD SHITE…so she better keep her DELUSIONAL ASS TO HERSELF…and do the people’s work that both her and her useless ass consultants are sucking the island dry in BIG SALARIES…multimillions …AND ARE YET TO COMPETENTLY DO…..

    And the WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW.

    Like

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