FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT SOON TO BE OPERATIONALIZED, SAYS ATTORNEY GENERAL BYRON

 Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 19, 2018 (SKNIS): Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., said that the Freedom of Information Bill that was passed into law on May 03, 2018, will be operationalized after the necessary requirements are put in place.

“Part of the process to operationalize this Bill has to be to document management processes to ensure that when the public comes to request the data it is available in a timely fashion,” he said, while speaking in support of The Appropriation (2019) Bill, 2018, on December 18.

The attorney general also noted that the Freedom of Information Act requires a response time of 20 days for information to be provided after a request has been made.

He explained that a large number of government institutions still have paper records which may not be easily accessible and which will not allow for necessary information to be pulled in a timely manner.

Minister Byron said that an electronic filing system has been introduced in the Attorney General’s Chambers to facilitate the efficient storage of information received by the office.  He added that the system is about 80 percent functional and that once the staff has been trained on the new system, data can be accessed from the Cloud.

“Once we have the proper training, and the software has been brought to light, it will make a significant improvement in the delivery of service from the Attorney General’s Chambers,” stated Minister Byron.

The attorney general noted that in order to be prepared to appropriately address the stipulations outlined in the bill, a few government offices’ data collection processes have to be updated.

“We hope that within a month or two, we will be able to respond to requests,” he said.

The Freedom of Information Bill had its first reading on September 15, 2015. It promotes maximum disclosure of information in the public interest to guarantee the right of everyone to access to information, to provide for effective mechanisms to secure that right and for related matters.