LET YOUR MP'S KNOW THAT YOU WANT A “TRUE” FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

Send an email to your Minister of Parliament, telling them that you need them to fight for the passage of a strong and fair Freedom of Information Act. Please personalize the below letter to easily explain what recommendations need to be included in the 2015 proposed draft of the bill.

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From: {{ displayedSenderName }}

To: {{ displayedAddressLine }}

Subject: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Dear {{ displayedGreetingLine }},

As a constituent of {{ displayedConstituency }} and a concerned citizen, I urge you to prioritize the Freedom of Information Bill 2016 tabled in Parliament December 13th 2016 and encourage you to ensure that the resulting Act (FOIA) is strong, fair, and empowers the Bahamian people.

A "true" FOIA will benefit and protect citizens and residents, private businesses, civil society organizations, industry associations, media outlets, unions and ultimately our country. FOIA gives us the right to important information about our country and the power to expose misconduct. As the Bill goes to debate, you have an opportunity to represent and work with your constituents for greater accountability and transparency which are two critical pillars of good governance.

The most recent draft - The Freedom of Information Bill 2016 – was an opportunity missed; The Bill largely bypasses the recommendations of 21 civil society organizations and requires several major improvements to be an effective tool that empowers citizens:

  • The selection process for the Information Commissioner is not independent of political influence. To avoid bias, the position should be selected through a Selection Committee involving government, opposition, and members of civil society.
  • The Bill does not provide sufficient access to information about entities and bodies that receive substantial public funding. The definition of "Public Authorities" which are subject to the Bill should be expanded to include all bodies "owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government from public funds."
  • Time limits outlined in the Bill are too long, favor the government, and act as deterrents for applicants. Wait time for responses and the 30-year period for information to be declassified should be shortened.
  • The records and data which inform cabinet and committee decisions should be available for request under the Bill.

I encourage you to read the attached – a thorough point by point review of the consolidated list of submitted recommendations against the most recent 2016 draft that was tabled. This review is endorsed by Citizens for a Better Bahamas, Our Carmichael, The Organization for Responsible Governance, We The People, Save The Bays, The Abaco Chamber of Commerce, The Nassau Institute, reEarth, HeadKnowles Foundation, Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, Waterkeepers Bahamas, The Bahamas Press Club, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, It’s Our Turn, Young Marine Explorers, Civil Society Bahamas, The Bahamas Retailers Federation, The Coalition to Save Clifton, Rise Bahamas, Citizens for Justice and BREEF.

I stand with these organizations in asking you to press for a strong FOIA in the service of your constituents and all members of Bahamian society. As a MP you are in a position to fight for our right to know and keep our government honest. As your constituent, I ask that you honor this responsibility by driving the passage of a strong, fair FOIA.

Sincerely,

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{{ displayedConstituency }}

Review of Freedom of Information Bill 2016 against The Consolidated List of Recommendations