Cayman Islands

The draft Freedom of Information Bill has been sent to the Legislative Assembly for debate in this financial year’s (2007-08) second meeting of the House that begins on 31 August.

In conjunction with that, the draft bill was published on 31 July 2007, in Supplement number one with Extraordinary Gazette number 18. The bill is for a law to give to the public a general right of access to records.

The gazettal marks the end of an extensive period of public consultation on this landmark legislation that contains some 58 clauses. The consultative exercise began with Leader of Government Business Hon Kurt Tibbetts’ tabling in the Legislative Assembly in November 2005 a draft white paper for freedom of information on a wide range of public records.

Following the tabling of the draft FOI bill, government spread its consultation across the Cayman Islands with community meetings in each district. Additionally, comments were obtained from the general public and private organisations through email or printed submissions delivered to the Government Administration Building.

In its present form the draft bill seeks as far as possible to include sentiments of the public and private organisations.

Once the draft FOI bill becomes law, it would apply to public authorities and all records, regardless of when they were created.

It would, however, exempt from disclosure records affecting sensitive aspects of security, defence, international relations, confidential information, the national economy, government’s deliberative process, and commercial interests. At the same time, the law would allow for the release of such information, if it is determined to be in the ‘public interest’. Regulations for the law, which are yet to be submitted, will define ‘public interest’.

There is to be an independent Freedom of Information Commissioner who has the power to order release of certain information, based on a complaint from a member of the public. This Commissioner is to report to the Legislative Assembly only.

The proposed law would also protect from persecution or any form of discrimination, any person who releases in good faith information on public wrongdoing or that would relate to serious threats to health, safety or the environment.

Draft Freedom of Information Bill sent to Parliament