Com­pa­nies may ap­ply for in­for­ma­tion un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act

Stabroek News - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Ed­i­tor, The pub­lic dis­cus­sion on the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act or­gan­ised by the Guyana Bar As­so­ci­a­tion was both use­ful and timely, par­tic­u­larly in the light of pub­lic calls for the dis­clo­sure of con­tracts en­tered into by the Govern­ment of Guyana.

How­ever, the re­ported guid­ance in the me­dia about the el­i­gi­bil­ity of per­sons to ap­ply to the Com­mis­sioner of In­for­ma­tion for dis­clo­sure is dis­turb­ing. The re­port states that an ap­pli­cant must ei­ther be a Guyanese or a per­son domi­ciled in Guyana and adds that a com­pany can­not be domi­ciled here, nor can an NGO. It is a mat­ter of el­e­men­tary law, not re­quir­ing the cit­ing of any case au­thor­i­ties, that a com­pany does in­deed have a domi­cile. And in so far as per­sons are con­cerned, the In­ter­pre­ta­tion and Gen­eral Clauses Act de­fines a ‘per­son’ in­clu­sively as “any body of per­sons cor­po­rate or un­in­cor­po­rate …” (em­pha­sis mine).

It is clear there­fore, that com­pa­nies and NGOs, whether in­cor­po­rated or not, may ap­ply for in­for­ma­tion un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act. More­over, any for­mal­is­tic and reg­i­mented ap­proach to the Act would be in­con­sis­tent with the ob­jec­tive of the Act which is to fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion by the pub­lic and “pro­mote trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in the work­ing of the Govern­ment and pub­lic au­thor­i­ties”.

So that per­sons are not un­duly de­terred from seek­ing in­for­ma­tion un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act, the Guyana Bar As­so­ci­a­tion may wish to cor­rect any wrong im­pres­sions con­veyed by the me­dia re­port.

I hope too that the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion took the op­por­tu­nity to raise the dif­fi­cul­ties which mem­bers of the pub­lic have had in seek­ing in­for­ma­tion through the Com­mis­sioner of In­for­ma­tion and the spu­ri­ous and facile grounds for re­fus­ing to deal with ap­pli­ca­tions.

Again though, I con­grat­u­late the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion on the ini­tia­tive. Yours faith­fully, Christo­pher Ram

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