Transparency Saint Helena

Arguing for improved access to the way government takes decisions. In short, the creation of a Freedom of Information Ordinance for St. Helena.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Progress on Freedom of Information

There's lots of news and progress on Freedom of Information on St Helena Online and in this week's Independent:  The island's Human Rights Coordinator steps in to support our campaign a letter to every island councillor, requesting their views on Freedom of Information

Both these stories also feature in this week's St. Helena Independent

Thursday, September 6, 2012

UK Government promotes openness in Local Councils

This quote is from UK Government guidance issued to UK Local Councils:
There are recent stories about people being ejected from council meetings for blogging, tweeting or filming. This potentially is at odds with the fundamentals of democracy and I want to encourage all councils to take a welcoming approach to those who want to bring local news stories to a wider audience. The public should rightly expect that elected representatives who have put themselves up for public office be prepared for their decisions to be as transparent as possible and welcome a direct line of communication to their electorate. I do hope that you and your colleagues will do your utmost to maximise the transparency and openness of your council.

Oh, that they had written that to the St. Helena Government!

The quote comes from an interesting story about a journalist being arrested in Wales for filming local council proceedings.  Read the entire report here:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not in the spirit of Freedom of Information

I recently made a request to the government Press Office for some information.  I was actually after a few facts regarding the funding of the St. Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation, the SHGBC.  Politically sensitive, maybe, but not exactly a matter of national security.  Under the UK Freedom of Information Act this information would have been readily available.  Indeed, I wouldn’t have needed to request it as it would have been published.

I was denied the information.  When I asked why, I was told: “In response to your below enquiry, having taken legal advice, the substance of which is privileged and will not be disclosed. I must advise you that the material sought will not be disclosed. Refusal of disclosure is consistent with applying the principles of the UK legislation, modified to reflect local circumstances.

From this it is plain that the government Pres Office does not act in the spirit of Freedom of Information.