SVG

Still no date for effecting Freedom of Information Act

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) government boasts of its moving mountains and filling in valleys to build an international airport but has failed to “set up a structure” to operationalise the freedom of information (FOI) laws Parliament passed nine years ago.

“Basically, we have to set up a structure, which we have not done yet,” Gonsalves said Tuesday in explaining why the laws have not come into effect.

He said a Searchlight editorial on May 8 — five days after World Press Freedom Day — “as a reminder, was very useful” but still did not indicate when the laws will come into effect but praised this nation’s press freedom rankings.

The editorial had noted that in 2011, this country was 17th among 196 in the Global Press Freedom Rankings by Freedom House. The country was second only to St. Lucia in the Americas.

The editorial said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines “no doubt” earned the ranking because of its three privately-run independent newspapers, 11 radio stations — many of which have call in programmes — and two privately-run television stations.

The editorial further spoke of easy access to the prime minister, his frequent press conferences, and Internet penetration rates and the concomitant access to new media.

“Despite these gains, we still have much further to go. There is still a reluctance on the part of some public officials to provide information on matters of public interest and the constant threat of litigation encourages self-censorship and discourages investigative reporting,” the editorial, however, said.

“World Press Freedom Day is also a day when governments should be reminded of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.

“This is, therefore, as good a time as any to call again on our government to operationalise the Freedom of Information Act, which was passed into law since 2003,” it further stated.

But Gonsalves said at his press briefing that one must “always remember there were two laws which were passed simultaneously and they have to be operationalise at the same time”.

The laws were the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.

“… basically, what happens now with a lot of information being made available to the press, you can have it as a right. … but, under the Freedom of Information Act, you file a notice, you give them enough time, they will give you the information as a legal requirement,” he said.

He added that there are restrictions to the FOI Act “on matters of privacy and, naturally, issues of national security and the like”.

Gonsalves noted the country’s high press freedom ranking according to the reputable international entities but said there was “a slight omission” in the newspaper’s editorial

“… there is a government which is quite sensitive to issues of freedom of the press …” he said.

He further said that while he has successfully sued persons for defamation of character, this does not impinge on press freedom.

“You can’t say on the radio that I thief (stole) money, that I misbehave in public office when it ain’t happen. … that is abuse and I win you every time I go to the court. “So, despite what the NDP (New Democratic Party) says, despite what the critics of the government say, the international observers, regional observers who are unbiased and local ones who are unbiased, they know we have a thriving freedom of the press here…” Gonsalves further stated but did not say when the laws will take effect.

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Discussion

15 thoughts on “Still no date for effecting Freedom of Information Act

  1. I do not think those bits of legislation will ever come into place under the current government. Moreover, when a party owns the government and the jobs and many percieve assistance when given to depend on political affiliation what difference would the act make?

    Posted by Concerned vincy | May 20, 2012, 04:39
  2. Gonsalves will never implement such an Act. He tells us that he is here to finish the work of Maurice Bishop, well the Marxist countries that Bishop was wrapped up with insisted that he kept all their dealings secret, all agreaments were secret documents until the Americans captured those documents. Now they are available for all to see at the Grenada Public Records Office.

    GONSALVES, stop being a donkey and implement these acts NOW.

    Will we ever be able to see the ALBA documents?

    Posted by Peter | May 20, 2012, 06:59
  3. The PM knows that there is a lot hidden which cannot be revealed or else his doom would be sealed. If he wants to implement the Act, he can take a weekend and put the structures in place. He is known for doing such. I guess he feels that the tentacles aren’t enclosing his neck so there is no need to rush.

    Posted by justice | May 20, 2012, 18:38
  4. l.o.l They can’t even find beache’s,belmar’s and the other ulp sycophant contracts,what makes you think that even with The Freedom f Information act,documents wont be “misplaced”,or they’ll show us the books for the airport l.o.l

    Posted by Jahu | May 20, 2012, 21:49
  5. JUSTICE, your probably correct.

    Posted by Peter | May 21, 2012, 14:52
  6. It’s a travesty that nine years after passing this act, it is yet to be implemented. Dr. Gonsalves is a shrewd politician and know how to get things done, so if he had any interest in implementing this act, it would have been done many moons ago. Evidently, this is not a priority of his and would not serve his government’s interest, hence the delay.The perception here, of the public is that the Gov’t has much to hide, and no one should be blamed for this perception. I would not advice anyone to hold their breath, but I personally think that this piece of legislation would not be effected untill the ULP is on the verge of leaving office, which could be anytime between 2015 and 2020.

    Posted by Eric Williams | May 22, 2012, 09:51
  7. ERIC WILLIAMS, why don’t you condemn him for failing to do the decent thing, why? Because you up his ar.e on the promise of something at the Argyle Airport. You are another one of Gonsalves toilet papers, an ar.e licker.

    You are an unpatriotic twat who has sold out the Vincy people for a few pieces of silver. You are a Marxist collaborator of the worst kind, looking only for your own gratification, at the expense of all decent Vincentians. Have you considered the curse of the Christian Blood money spent at the airport?

    Posted by Peter | May 22, 2012, 22:03
    • Peter. Sorry to disappoint you man, but I am independent and fair-minded with a total disregard for politics and personality. Rather, I concentrate on policy. I criticise bad policy or commend good policy, as I see it, no matter what side it comes from. You would never see me call anyone unkind names on this forum because I dont agree with their opinion. To do that would be a total disrespect of my parents(deceased) and the values they taught us, and worse yet a betrayal of the God I serve and his teachings as to how we should live with others and treat our fellow men. I live by the “GOLDEN RULE,” do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. PEACE MAN, and God Bless!!!

      Posted by Eric Williams | May 24, 2012, 09:25
  8. TOO MANY TRIPS TO CUBA AND VENEZUELA, so consequently NO TIME TO DEVOTE TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.

    But, then again, the role of LENINISTS in power is to SUPPRESS AND DESTROY THE FREE PRESS and JAIL INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS. Remember, Promises are like pie-crusts, made to be broken.

    Examine the record of jailed, tortured, murdered, or exiled JOURNALISTS in: COMMUNIST CUBA, COMMUNIST RUSSIA, COMMUNIST CHINA, CAMBODIA, LAOS, COMMUNIST VIETNAM, NORTH KOREA, Communist EASTERN EUROPE, and 1979 – 1983 BISHOP-COARD-AUSTIN ‘revolutionary’ GRENADA.

    Gonsalves will continue to mamaguy them on The FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. Promises . . .

    Posted by STEVE_ HUGGINS | May 24, 2012, 10:02
  9. ERIC WILLIAM, If you were the Christian that you profess you would never support this crap Marxist regime. Nor follow a man that has 5 times been accused of sexual crimes and never been to court, a man who is a self confessed liar. A man that has brought a curse on the new airport by taking money from states like Iran who murder, rape, torture, imprison and execute Iranian Christians, whose only crime is being of the Christian faith and refusing to abandon their faith. We have taken money for the airport and voted for such rubbish states at the UN to help them with their human rights attrocities and treatment of Christians.

    I know you are fully aware of this and you choose to ignore it, therefore I believe you are also guilty of the murder of Christians. The airport is now called the Christian Blood Airport [CBA] at Argyle.

    ERIC WILLIAM, fall to your knees and beg the Lord for forgivness.

    Posted by Peter | May 25, 2012, 19:35
  10. ERIC WILLIAMS, sorry to keep on but your statement is akin to Nazi collaborators who chose to ignore the murder of millions of innocent people.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE AND SMELL THE SULPHUR

    Posted by Peter | May 25, 2012, 19:39
  11. SPARE SOME TIME from your NATIONAL BIRD KITE-FLYING and devote some attention to the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. me sure that yuh ain mek it over into a Communist CONTROL AND CONSOLIDATION farce.

    Of course, the MARXIST-LENINIST hate and fear the free dissemination of free information among a free people. They seek to ENSLAVE US WITH THEIR DESPOTIC CONTROL OF INFORMATION and sick substitution of FALSE COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA as obtains in ‘socialist’ slave-states such as COMMUNIST NORTH KOREA, COMMUNIST CUBA, VENEZUELA, COMMUNIST CHINA, and COMMUNIST LAOS.

    When they commit their mass murders, their controlled of all information is supposed to SUPPRESS THE KNOWLEDGE OF THESE GOD-LESS ATROCITIES : Revolutionary Grenada, Communist Cuba, Communist [‘soviet’] Russia, Communist China, and KAMPUCHEA/ Cambodia.

    Say NO to PRESS CONTROL.

    The PRICE OF FREEDOM is our ETERNAL VIGILANCE.

    SAY NO TO SUPPRESSION OF INFORMATION.

    DOWN WITH COMMUNISM, DESPOTISM, AND MEGALO-MANIA.

    COMMUNIST CUBANS, GO HOME !

    CUBAN MILITIAS, LEAVE SVG.

    GO HOME, CUBANS !

    Posted by STEVE_ HUGGINS | May 28, 2012, 19:02
  12. VINCY POWA, you old Marxist scumbag, what have you got to say in support of Gonsalves on this matter then?

    STEVE-HUGGINS, how about the Great Pretender, Donkey Shit Gonsalves, you missed him from your list, he is the great supporter of crap countries that execute Christians because the are Christians, he supports Assad whose militia are killing children by shooting them in the head. As a UN supporter of Assad, Gonsalves is as guilty as him in the death of all those women and children.

    Sorry steve, I re-read your blog and see you did refer to him without calling his name.

    Posted by Peter | May 29, 2012, 20:03
  13. PETER, now with this UNION ISLAND “shoot-out” with the alleged “Drugs Ship” from Venezuela’s Marguerita island, the reputed new South American headquarters for illicit drugs, gun-running and international terrorism – – – we in S.V.G. greatly need the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, immediately, more than ever. Without any late-minute COMMUNIST revisions or watering down.

    Posted by STEVE_HUGGINS | June 10, 2012, 00:21
  14. STEVE_HUGGINS, go and take your medication.

    Posted by VINCYPOWA | June 10, 2012, 21:28

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