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Post time 2018-09-09 14:56:05 | Show all posts |Read mode
With the continued boycott of opposition political parties, the government aired its own support for the Access to Information Bill and passed the legislation when the National Assembly was called yesterday.The Bill, which will have to be assented to by the President before it becomes law, places the release of information solely in the hands of a Commissioner of Information. Government Parliamentarians explained that the Commissioner would serve as a conduit through which information would be released.Parliamentarian Gail Teixeira making a point in the National Assembly yesterdayBrushing aside criticism that the term “Freedom of Information” should have been the name of the Bill, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said what is important is that the legislation sets out a practical regime for access to information.“The Bill is a Freedom of Information bill in practice,” Hinds asserted.The Bill was tabled in the National Assembly on June 17 and was sent to a Special Select Committee for further discussions and to allow for public input.The Committee did not benefit from the input of the Parliamentary opposition in the end,Cheap Air Max Ireland, because of the opposition’s stance not to attend sittings of the House during this extended period when the Parliament should be in recess. The Parliamentary recess should have commenced on August 10 and extended until October 10, according to the Parliamentary Standing Orders. The government had moved to the House to pass a motion suspending the recess.In taking the Bill through its final stages in the House, Hinds noted that while the Bill was sent to a Special Select Committee,Scarpe Adidas Stan Smith Scontate, no changes in principle or intent were made and that whatever amendments were made, were to clarify explanations, remove ambiguities, and correct some typographic errors and layout issues.Hinds said that the public noise that was made about the President being exempt was based on a misunderstanding. He said that the President in his capacity as a private person is exempt, but the Office of the President is not exempt.The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) had argued that the fundamental principle guiding any  Freedom of Information Act is that all ‘public authorities’ i.e. persons placed in office by electorates and the agencies which those persons create and administer, that is, statutory bodies, public corporations and private entities which carry out public functions should be subject to disclosure legislation.“In an elected presidency in which the President wields such enormous powers as in Guyana, to declare his office off-limits to freedom of information legislation demolishes the good faith of the Bill,” the GHRA had stated in its submission to the Special Select Committee.Hinds explained that persons would only be able to request documents (including audio and video files) created after the law goes into effect. Explaining, he said documents created before the Act would not be accessible, because such documents would not have been covered by the legislation, which sets out procedures for storing and retrieving of documents.However, he said that this would in no way exclude information that would have otherwise been available before the commencement of the Act.Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira, explained that a person would not be able to request and receive information that is already in the public domain, such as what is stored in an archive or on a website.Prime Minister Hinds said that there were differences regarding the appointment of the Commissioner of Information by the President, with suggestions that the Commission should be appointed the way appointments are made to the various Rights Commissions.However, Hinds explained that the government held its view that the Commissioner and his/her staff act as functionaries of the state.Hinds said that when the Act comes into play, it would establish systems all across the government that would allow for consistent ways of filing and retaining documents and retrieval of such documents.“I have no doubt, that this is a necessary first step and in soon time we will have an effective, functioning system where citizens can have access to the information the government uses in its work…,” Hinds stated.The government moved ahead with its Access to Information Bill in favour of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill tabled by the Alliance for Change (AFC).Teixeira said that the AFC Bill was an exact copy of Trinidad and Tobago’s legislation.She said the government’s Bill was not a duplicate of any Bill, but was crafted by taking the best from various pieces of legislation from member nations of the Caribbean Community and established democracies of the world, such as Canada.She noted in particular, as in the case with Canada’s law, what was crafted for Guyana also allows for the release of exempted documents twenty years later.Teixeira said she was surprised that given instances where journalists in some countries are sent to jail for refusing to disclose their sources, the local media did not celebrate the fact that they would not be obligated to disclose the sources of their information.The Bill seeks to enshrine in the Constitution,Adidas Nmd Cs2 Nere, the right of all Guyanese or persons domiciled in Guyana to obtain access to an official document, and sets out the method by which persons could secure access to information.The legislation, as stated in the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill,Adidas Superstar Nere Scontate, is intended to promote transparency and accountability in the workings of the government and public authorities. The Bill is in accord with Article 146 of the Constitution and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.The Bill suggests that public authorities have the onus to maintain all their records duly catalogued,Scarpe Adidas Scontate Online, classified and indexed in a manner and form which facilitates the right of access to information. In the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill, the government stated that the right to freedom of information is increasingly accepted as a necessary aspect of participatory democracies.The Bill sets out what information the public would not have access to. These include the official record of meetings and decisions of Cabinet.The law would not apply to any Commission of Inquiry issued by the President, or information obtained or created in the course of an investigation, examination or audit by or under the authority of the Auditor General, unless the investigation or audit and all related proceedings are financially concluded.The law would also not apply to a public authority or function of a public authority as the President may determine, but only after a favourable resolution by the National Assembly.The Bill proposes that a holder of judicial office should not be considered a public authority.The Act defines an exempt document as one which contains information if disclosed would be likely to prejudice the defence of Guyana or any of its allies, or would lead to actions preventing the suppression of subversive or hostile activities. In addition, an exempt document would be one which contains information that if disclosed would prejudice the lawful activities of the disciplined forces.The Bill also sets out penalties for the destruction of official documents. A person, who willfully destroys or damages a document which should have been preserved, would be liable to a fine of $300, 000 and imprisonment for six months.The Bill proposes that someone who destroys information which was requested is liable on conviction to one year imprisonment. It is also proposed that someone who is in unlawful possession of an exempt document to be liable to a fine of $300,Scarpe Adidas Superstar Uomo In Offerta, 000 and imprisonment for six months.
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 Author| Post time 2018-09-13 21:26:01 | Show all posts

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 Author| Post time 2018-09-17 19:15:31 | Show all posts

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