Freedom of Information Acts in the Developing World: Lessons from the Caribbean for the Bahamian Experience

Lisa Benjamin

Abstract


Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs) can provide countries with a platform to enshrine transparency, deepen democracy and combat corruption. A number of FOIAs or Right to Information Acts have been passed in the last 20 years, particularly in developing countries and including in the Caribbean region. These initiatives have encountered similar problems, including lack of implementation and enforcement, potentially due to weak institutional systems. The lack of implementation may also be due to contradictory domestic incentives; FOIAs are designed to induce transparency and the provision of information, but also impose constraints and administrative burdens on governments. This article looks at the international context of FOIAs and analyses some of the recent problems of implementation, particularly in developing countries and specifically in the Caribbean region. The article then takes a detailed look at the amendment process and passage of the FOIA 2017 Act in The Bahamas, which is illustrative of these conflicting incentives.

Keywords


Freedom of Information Act; Right to Information; Information Science; Law; Legislation; Caribbean Studies; Bahamian Studies

Full Text:

PDF Full text

References


Caribbean Freedom of Information Network. (2013). Plan to improve FOIA implementation in the Caribbean. Retrieved from http://foiaadvocates.net/?page_id=10617

Durrant, F. (2006). Openness, access to government information and Caribbean governance. First Monday, 11(6), 1-4. Retrieved from http://ojphi.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1369/1288

Freedom of Information Act Working Committee. (2016). Freedom of Information Bill 2015 Town Hall Meeting. FOIA Presentation. Retrieved from https://www.ministryofeducationbahamas.com/freedom-of-information

IFLA & Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington. (2017). Development and access to information: Executive summary. Retrieved from IFLA website https://da2i.ifla.org

Kwoka, M. B. (2013). Deferring to secrecy. Boston College Law Review, 54, 185-242. Retrieved from http://bclawreview.org/files/2013/01/04_kwoka.pdf

LaMay, C. L., Freeman, R. J., & Winfield, R. N. (2013, September 10). Breathing life into freedom of information laws: The challenges of implementing in the democratizing world. Retrieved from Center for International Media Assistance website http://www.cima.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CIMA-Freedom_of_Information_ISLP_09-10-13.pdf

Livingstone, A. (2015). Freedom of information in the Caribbean 20 years & beyond. Retrieved from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPUBLICSECTORANDGOVERNANCE/0%2c%2ccontentMDK:23585462~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:286305%2c00.html

Roberts, A. (2010). A great and revolutionary law? The first four years of India’s Right to Information Act. Public Administration Review, 70(6), 925-933. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2010.02224.x

Schnell, S. (2015). Mimicry, persuasion or learning? The case of two transparency and anti-corruption policies in Romania. Public Administration and Development, 35(4), 277-287. https://doi.org/10.1002/pad.1721

Shepherd, E. (2015). Freedom of Information: Right to access information, open data: Who is at the table? The Round Table, 104(6), 715-726. https://doi.org/10.1080/00358533.2015.1112101

Taylor, K. C. (2011, September 18). A review of information, data protection and open data in the Caribbean. Report for the public sector information online: Towards a global policy framework workshop. Retrieved from http://caribbeanopeninstitute.org/civicrm/file?reset=1&id=1&eid=7

Trapnell, S. E., & Lemieux, V. (2014). Right to information: Identifying drivers of effectiveness in implementation. Washington, DC: World Bank. Retrieved from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/157641467997846547/Right-to-information-identifying-drivers-of-effectiveness-in-implementatio




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15362/ijbs.v23i0.292

Copyright (c) 2017 Lisa Benjamin