Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 23, 2023 (SKNIS): The Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, 2023, received safe passage through the National Assembly during the Sitting of February 22, 2023. Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, described the legislation as key to improving transparency, accountability, and overall good governance in public office.
“I want to inform the persons that are affected by this legislation that the intention of the Government is to spend the next six (6) weeks educating the general public and public servants about these pieces of legislation before they are actually triggered into operation. We have discussed this, and we know that this is a changing culture and we do not want to simply force it on persons,” said Attorney General Wilkin.
The Freedom of Information Act enables citizens to request information about a wide range of topics such as government spending, public policies, and the conduct of public officials. This information can be used to hold government officials accountable for their actions and to promote greater transparency in government.
The Attorney General further spoke to the importance of education and awareness of the broader society as to the impact of the Freedom of Information Act, indicating that a comprehensive roll-out would be coupled with the enactment of the legislation.
“We want them to know what their responsibilities are and that comes through education. We will be creating at the Office of The Attorney General booklets; we will be having seminars; we are contemplating getting a person specifically to the different Ministries and explaining to them the different corruption offenses, and how freedom of information must work. We are going to start finding the right people to be information officers; we are going to teach people the persons who have to file declarations what they need to get in order to be able to prepare their declarations for filing on July 31, 2023. We are going to hold everyone’s hand figuratively and guide them through this process so that by April, the latest May, we can implement all of this legislation with everybody knowing what to expect and knowing what their responsibilities are so that we can turn the page on a new chapter for St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Attorney General Wilkin.
The Freedom of Information Act is a piece of legislation that is designed to promote transparency and accountability in government. The Act gives citizens the right to access information held by public bodies, including government departments, local authorities, and other publicly-funded organizations.