Work on Guyana FOI Bill Delayed; Talks Continue

24 November 2010

Expectations that a freedom of information bill would be introduced this year in Guyana may go unfulfilled while discussions continue on the substance of the measure.

In early November, a top government spokesman said FOI legislation could be offered in the Guyana parliament this year. (See previous report.)

The Leader of the Alliance for Change, Raphael Trotman has been pushing for his bill for four years and recently has been working with the government in an effort to reach a consensus, according to a report in Kaietur News Nov. 22.

Trotman was quoted as saying that at the end of the day he does not believe that freedom of information should be a contentious issue, “and that we can find common ground on moving it forward because ultimately the people will benefit… journalists will have a better handle on things.”

The paper also reported:

He said that he believes that his FOI Bill has been a thorn in the administration’s side but greater sense will prevail, “and before this session ends we should have Freedom of Information Legislation.”

Trotman said that he believes that it has been accepted by both parties that Guyana is at a stage where FOI is necessary.

He said that the two parties are currently trying to narrow the contentious issues and try to ensure that they have a bill that the nation can accept.

“We are at a stage now where we are accepting that this is necessary…We are differing somewhat on the procedures as to whose Bill and what should come forward.”

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds recently wrote parliamentary leaders to say the government intends to bring the Access to Information Bill in January. 

“Subsequent to that announcement, a government source had stated that Trotman’s Bill was very weak and a cut and paste job,” the article stated.  It continued: “Trotman responded by pointing out that the Bill he had tabled was reviewed by a reputable Commonwealth body which had even had an input in the Bill.”

Also recently, efforts to form a Transparency International organization in Guyana were announced, according to a report in the Stabroek News.

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