They did not do it in 5 years but are shouting at us for not doing it after only 2 years We trust that the Free National Movement government means what it says... Accordingly, we remind the FNM of its specific pledge made in 2007, as it relates to establishing a Freedom of Information Act Freedom and access to information thenassauguardian editorial Within weeks of coming to office in 2007, a new FNM administration led by Hubert Ingraham and guided by a Trust Agenda committed itself to greater democratic governance. The tabling of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company sales agreements between the government and Cable and Wireless Communications was an example of this commitment, and was in keeping with the prompt freeing of the broadcast media from state control during the FNM’s earlier term in office. We trust that the Free National Movement government means what it says. Accordingly, we remind the government of its specific pledge made in 2007, as it relates to establishing a Freedom of Information Act: “Accountability and transparency in government are fundamental to our code of beliefs, a code that includes the right of the people to access information regarding the processes of governing. In support of such openness, legislation will be placed before you for the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act.” This top billing and decisive language suggested immediate action. So, what is the state of this pledge? Enacting such legislation near the end of the current government’s term would not seem to be consistent with the FNM’s trust agenda. Many other countries in the region are either in the process of drafting or have already implemented Freedom of Information laws. Around the world, more than 60 countries have enacted FOI acts. Freedom of information has long been recognized as a foundational human right ever since the United Nations General Assembly declared in 1946 that, “Freedom of Information is a fundamental human right and a touchstone of all freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.” Since then, the Organization of American States and the Commonwealth — The Bahamas being a member of both — have also endorsed minimum standards on the right of information. A FOI law has the potential to promote greater transparency and accountability and also facilitates greater public participation in the government’s decision-making process. Empowering citizens with the legal right to access information of their government’s activities can strengthen democracy by making the government directly accountable to its citizens on a day-to-day basis rather than just at election time. Legislation to provide more freedom or access to information is not an end in itself. An outdated public service culture run by civil servants who would often prefer root canal surgery rather than press scrutiny will not quickly become more transparent because of the passage of a bill. Moreover, a media culture that is often sloppy and lazy in its coverage of government and political affairs will also not suddenly become more enterprising. Still, such legislation is a means to various ends. It is a part of a framework of legislative tools that can help to promote a more accountable and transparent public service culture. The debate on enactment of and training in the details of such legislation may help spur politicians, civil servants and journalists to provide citizens with the freedom of information needed to make freer and more informed decisions. Outlawing discrimination does not end prejudice. But it puts that prejudice on notice that discrimination is against the law. Legislation to ensure greater public access to information will not in itself ensure a more open public service culture. But it puts that culture on notice that such openness is an essential component in good and effective governance. We trust that the FNM will live up to its word and will be supported by the opposition, who also committed itself to similar legislation. As of now we are agnostic regarding the details of such legislation. But we have faith that such landmark legislation is not only necessary, but long overdue. Sep 08, 2011 You just have to laugh at these people They really think we do not know what they did not do ?
Posted on: Fri, 04 Jul 2014 03:10:13 +0000
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