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Coalition Applauds Moves On Freedom Of Information

CALLING the right of the public to access information about the business of the government “an essential and critical tool in a truly democratic society,” the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay yesterday lauded the Christie administration’s announcement that it was close to enacting the Freedom of Information Act.

The Coalition’s comments came in response to Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson’s announcement that the Act, passed by the former government but never launched, was being reviewed by the Law Reform and Revision Department.

“This is excellent news,” said the coalition of environmentalists, which has pushed for laws that would make the business of government more transparent. “Most countries around the globe have recognised the importance of allowing the public access to information and have, in one form or another, passed a Freedom of Information Act.

“Such Acts allow citizens, journalists and interested parties access to information, an essential and critical tool in the maintenance of a truly democratic society. Not only does such an act provide information so that the business of governing is more transparent, it behooves those who govern by lifting the veil that could be seen as an attempt to conceal information even when not intended.

“Thus, it provides information for the public and frees those who govern of any suspicion that accompanies business done behind closed doors when there is no avenue to guarantee that information will be forthcoming.”

Though discussed in principle for more than a decade and urged by journalists, the Freedom of Information Act began to take shape under the previous administration.

A Bill passed just before the election. Last August, just over three months after the PLP assumed office, Prime Minister Perry Christie pledged to enact it in this five-year term.

“We laud the government of the Bahamas on the progress of the Freedom of Information Act and urge that the momentum toward passage be maintained with the same commitment and enthusiasm that both the current government and the former administration recognise as essential to have in place for the maintenance of a modern, democratic society,” said the Coalition’s statement. “Once the Act becomes law, its success will depend upon strict enforcement. We believe that the government fully understands and is committed to the reality of this aspect of the process.”

The Coalition has gathered dozens of serious supporters and hundreds of signatures on a petition for the cause that led to its creation, a desire to save the fragile marine environment in Clifton Bay where divers have identified some of the world’s most varied species of marine life.

The Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay is a licensed non-profit Bahamian corporation committed to preserving and protecting the delicate environmental, ecological and cultural balance of Clifton Bay and the surrounding community. Particular emphasis is given to encouraging effective land-use decisions and habitat restoration efforts that benefit the natural and human communities of the bay.

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