Freedom of Information Underpins Strong Democracy II
Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond continues to prosecute the important FoIA – David, Blogmaster
“…3. (1) The object of this Act is to extend the right of members of the public to access to information in the possession of public authorities…”
—Objects statement in FoIA
“…Because outside of national security matters and matters of the Cabinet…there are few other matters on the government files, that should really be secret…”
—PM Dr Keith Rowley at the post-Cabinet press briefing on 23 May 2019.
The objects statement in the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the PM’s statement, with which I entirely agree, are both cause for a pause in this haste to dilute citizens’ rights in this arena. The previous article was submitted before the proposed amendments were released, so this one starts with some important background to set the current imbroglio in context.
PNM’s founder Dr Eric Williams’ epic and imperishable work took him through an absolute forest of official information to recalculate our bearings and history so that we could understand our contribution and our place in the world. Today’s PNM would not have existed without the tremendous efforts of patriots of Dr Williams’ stature, but at the same time, today’s PNM finds itself deeply opposed to the very concept of Freedom of Information. Present-day researchers here in T&T have a very hard time getting official documents to prepare a critical study on anything which is official policy or practice.
Here is another citation in support of that assertion –
As Dr Terrence Farrell recounted, in ‘The Underachieving Society‘ (2012), in relation to the Vision 2020 exercise –
“…certain key persons involved in the implementation of policy initiatives elected not to participate. Calder Hart, chairman of UDECOTT,…did not participate. Ken Julien, president of the University of Trinidad & Tobago, and Noel Garcia, head of the Housing Development Corporation, key agencies in the implementation of government policy, also were not part of the Vision 2020 exercise…” (pg 203)