Tue | Oct 17, 2017

PAJ pushes for greater access to information

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 6:15 PM

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) is urging the government to follow through on its promise to make it easier for the media to access government information which might be of public interest.

In a release today, the PAJ noted that members of a Joint Select Committee of Parliament which reviewed the Access to Information Act were appointed in 2008, and the Committee met between March 2009 and January 2011.

But it says to date, the committee’s recommendations have not been implemented, and amendments to the legislation have not been tabled in Parliament.

Among the recommendations is for a public interest test to be included in the Act.

The PAJ says this would involve a balancing exercise which could allow the disclosure of information even in some exempt categories, if the public interest is determined to be greater than the reason for withholding the information.

The Joint Select Committee also recommended the repeal of the Official Secrets Act and its replacement with appropriate legislation.

The PAJ says it notes arguments that the ATI Act supersedes the Official Secrets Act in parts.

But the PAJ says participants at a recent panel discussion on the matter strongly expressed concerns that the continued existence of the Official Secrets Act served to intimidate public servants.