JAMAICA: More Delays on Access to Information

4 October 2003

The Jamaica Gleaner reports that the Jamaican Senate will not be debating the amendment to the Access to Information Act until the regulations governing its long-awaited implementation have been presented. The amendment, entitled the Access to Information Amendment Act 2003, was however tabled in the Upper House yesterday (October 3). Last week the Government announced that the Access to Information Act, slated to come into effect on October 1, would be delayed by about three weeks, despite the preparedness of the Ministries and state agencies for the first phase of implementation. Implementation of the Access to Information Act was originally scheduled for August 2003. Senator Burchell Whiteman, Leader of Government Business, said a decision was taken to use the approaching debate on the amendment to the Act, to ensure that final consideration of the Bill and the regulations take place together. But, he did not reveal whether the move would cause any further delay in the implementation of the Act. “We are literally at the stage of refining draft regulations in the light of submissions made by the stakeholders group,” he said of the current status of the process. The stakeholders group includes civil society organizations, such as Jamaicans For Justice and the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights. In justifying the decision to examine the Act and regulations together, Senator Whiteman reminded the Upper House of the suggestion made recently that it was “tidier and better for regulations to be tabled at the same time as a bill was being debated”. Deputy Leader of Government Business, Senator A.J. Nicholson, made the observation two weeks ago during the debate on the toll road regulations.

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