• Version
  • Download
  • File Size 606.63 KB
  • File Count
  • Create Date June 17, 2020
  • Last Updated June 17, 2020

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL,2019

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL,2019

Memorandum

This Freedom of Information Bill, 2019 will repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27]. The Bill will give effect to section 62 of the Constitution which enshrines in the Declaration of Rights the right of access to information.

In brief, the Bill sets out—

  • the procedure for access to information held by public institutions by the citizenry and permanent residents;
  • the procedure for accessing by any person of information held by any person where the information is necessary for the exercise or protection of a right;
  • considerations for the making available on a voluntary basis by entities, certain categories of information thereby obviating the need for formal requests for such information;
  • the scope of limitations on the right of access to information which are conceived, in some cases, as mandatory and in others as discretionary, protections against disclosure of information;
  • the rights of third parties with respect to any information whose disclosure has been requested;
  • the role of principle officers of entities and information officers in the implementation of the right to access information;
  • the procedures for internal appeals and court appeals against decisions made by information officers or principle officers of entities with respect to requests for access to information;
  • the time limits within which processes must be carried out; and

    This Freedom of Information Bill, 2019 will repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27]. The Bill will give effect to section 62 of the Constitution which enshrines in the Declaration of Rights the right of access to information.

    In brief, the Bill sets out—

    • the procedure for access to information held by public institutions by the citizenry and permanent residents;
    • the procedure for accessing by any person of information held by any person where the information is necessary for the exercise or protection of a right;
    • considerations for the making available on a voluntary basis by entities, certain categories of information thereby obviating the need for formal requests for such information;
    • the scope of limitations on the right of access to information which are conceived, in some cases, as mandatory and in others as discretionary, protections against disclosure of information;
    • the rights of third parties with respect to any information whose disclosure has been requested;
    • the role of principle officers of entities and information officers in the implementation of the right to access information;
    • the procedures for internal appeals and court appeals against decisions made by information officers or principle officers of entities with respect to requests for access to information;
    • the time limits within which processes must be carried out; and
  • the additional functions of the Human Rights Commission with respect to the right of access to information, which are to be exercised in the normal course of its role as the guardian of human rights.

    In more detail, the Bill provides as follows—

    PART I Preliminary

    This Part deals with preliminary matters.

    Clause 1 sets out the short title of the Bill which takes its title from the specific constitutional terminology, in line with global trends, with respect to the right.

    Clause 2 defines terms used in the Bill and significant are the following terms around which the Bill is structured, viz a viz “principle officer” being the person at the helm of any entity; “information” which is cast very widely; “information officer and “responsible person” who is the principle officer of a public or public commercial entity.

    Clause 3 states the objects of the Act as being essentially to give effect to the exercise of the right of access to information.

    Part II of the Bill which deals with providing access to information, creates in clause 4, a duty on entities to maintain the information of entities in a manner that facilitates the exercise of the right to access information. The entities are compelled to

    i(i)

page3image16100224

Freedom oF InFormatIon

page4image16131072

generate information in respect of their activities, maintain it systematically for easy retrieval and to securely preserve its integrity.

Clause 5 requires public entities, public commercial entities and holders of statutory bodies to disclose information which is in the interest of public accountability and in the interests of protecting a right.

Under Clause 6, the Act will not apply to information from Cabinet and its committees, with respect to judicial functions.

Part III of the Act deals with the process of requesting for access to information.

Clause 7 sets out the procedure for requesting for access to information. Requests must be in accordance with whether the rights granted by the section 61(1) and (2) of the Constitution, that is to say, requests to public entities may only be made by the citizenry; requests to all entities are open to everyone but they are confined to limited information, i.e. information required for the protection or exercise of a right. A request may be made in writing and an information officer must afford the applicant a copy. A written acknowledgement of the request must be provided immediately, including an immediate response as well if that is possible and satisfactory to the applicant.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *