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Freedom of Information Act (No. 1 of 2017)
The Freedom of Information Act aims to reinforce and give further effect to certain fundamental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy such as governmental accountability, transparency and public participation in national decision-making, by granting the public a general right of access to information. It also establishes an Information Commissioner and provides for mechanisms to give effect to that right.
Right to access information (Sections 4 and 6)
The act grants the public a general right of access to records held by a public authority that are not exempt. This right is granted to the persons outlined in the act. The Minister may, by Order, extend this right to other persons.
Obligated entities (Sections 2 and 3)
“Public authority” means (a) a Ministry of Department of Government; (b) a statutory body or authority, whether incorporated or not; (c) a public corporation; (d) any other body that the Minister declares the Act to apply. The Act applies to records of an administrative nature held in a registry or other office of a court.
Time limits to provide the information (Section 7(4))
As soon as reasonably practicable, but not later than 30 days after the date of receipt of the application or after the date of receipt of the transfer by another public authority.
Active transparency (Section 5 and Schedule)
A public authority shall publish information specified in the Schedule, including a description of functions, a list of agencies and departments, a statement of the records provided by the public authority for the use of the public authority in making decisions or recommendations, manuals and other records containing policies, interpretations, rules, guidelines, practices or precedents, among others.
Oversight body (Part V)
The Act establishes an Information Commissioner with all powers as necessary to undertake the specified functions and shall enjoy independence and autonomy in operating and administering the Freedom of Information Unit. The Commissioner shall hear, investigate and rule on appeals filed under the Act, monitor and report on compliance by public authorities and make recommendations, among others.
Appeal procedures (Part IV and Section 44)
Internal review procedures are provided for before a higher authority after which a matter can be brought to the Information Commissioner. Thereafter, the complainant may appeal to the Supreme Court on a decision of the Commissioner.