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Freedom of Information Bill being reviewed- Gov Duncan

- but no timeline mentioned for its passing into law
According to Governor John S. Duncan OBE, the Freedom of Information Bill is being reviewed to ensure its mandates can be successfully carried out in light of imminent legislation to be passed for E-Government and data protection. Photo: VINO/File
Former Complaints Commissioner Mr Elton Georges CMG OBE (left) and respected talk show host Doug Wheatley have both blasted the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government for not passing the Freedom of Information Bill. Photo: VINO/File
Former Complaints Commissioner Mr Elton Georges CMG OBE (left) and respected talk show host Doug Wheatley have both blasted the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government for not passing the Freedom of Information Bill. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The failure by the National Democratic Party (NDP) government to pass the long awaited Freedom of Information Bill has seen it come under heavy criticism from prominent members of the public, the media, as well as talk show hosts.

The call for the passing of the Bill has become even stronger with the NDP government continuing to deny the public critical information, even in the House of Assembly (HoA).

Bill being reviewed

Although not saying when the bill is likely to reach the HoA, Governor John S. Duncan OBE, during his Speech from the Throne at the First Sitting of the Second Session of the Third House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands today, September 22, 2016, said the Freedom of Information Bill is being reviewed.

According to the Governor, who has faced his own criticisms for failing to hold the NDP Government accountable in its spending and in the wake of allegations of corruption, the Freedom of Information Bill is being reviewed to ensure its mandates can be successfully carried out in light of imminent legislation to be passed for E-Government and data protection.

“Based on the experiences of other overseas territories it is well known fact that a Freedom of Information Act can require significantly increased resources to satisfy information requests, especially when coming from members of the media,” Governor Duncan said, adding that it is important to ensure that the necessary systems are in place to respond to such requests efficiently and effectively without compromising Government’s responsibility to protect personal data under law.

Data Protection Bill

It was announced also that a Data Protection Bill will be introduced to provide the legal framework to ensure that all sensitive and personal data of persons in the territory are protected.

“The legislation will also give individuals the right to know what information is held about them and provide regulation for how personal information is being handled.”

Governor Duncan said the proposed legislation applies to all processing of data in the Territory.

NDP Gov’t put on blast

In June of last year, the then outgoing Complaints Commissioner Mr Elton Georges CMG OBE slammed legislators for failing to pass the Freedom of Information Bill that has been on the shelves since 2005.

Mr Georges had said that he continues to take the view that freedom of information is an essential part of a modern governmental system and that the Virgin Islands should look at the drafted information law which has been gathering dust for some years now.

And recently, outspoken host of the 3D Show on ZBVI 780 AM, Doug Wheatley said Government wants to deny the public access to information, which is why it has not brought about a Freedom of Information Act.

“We have been trying to have a Freedom of Information Act passed in the House [of Assembly] for years and years and years. Long before the Governor came we have been trying and since the Governor has been here we have been trying, ” he said on Friday August 19, 2016.

Mr Wheatley had remarked that the various Ministers of Government have agreed to the passing of the Bill but it has never materialised.

“Obviously they don’t want to do it because they don’t want to give the public access to all the information that is available,” Wheatley surmised.

The National Democratic Party government has made several promises to bring the Freedom of Information Bill before the House of Assembly but has not done so. Instead it quickly brought the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act, 2014 which has been criticised by certain sections of the VI as well as the international community as seeking to suppress online media houses and put journalists in jail.

16 Responses to “Freedom of Information Bill being reviewed- Gov Duncan”

  • dog (22/09/2016, 14:44) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    just talk noting will happen
  • Boo (22/09/2016, 14:58) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Government in the shade
  • Welsah (22/09/2016, 15:01) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    NDP holding out pon we.
  • Scary Mary (22/09/2016, 15:17) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    I do not believe we will ever see a freedom of information act under this government. Such disclosures would be counter-intuitive to their standard operating procedures.

    If this government ever delivered "government in the sunshine", it must have taken place during a solar eclipse.
  • alda (22/09/2016, 15:22) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Come on we know this government care little about being transparent with information, what’ s NEW?
  • wize up (22/09/2016, 15:30) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    soon come because a promise is a comfort to a fool
  • Topaz (22/09/2016, 15:37) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Can anybody really take anything that Governor say seriously
  • Outlaw (22/09/2016, 17:57) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    On a different note here, I am here watching the Meeting of the HOA and am really, really vex with the disrespect, arrogance and blatant disregard of Dishonorable MVW towards the Hon. Andrew Fahie. Questions are been asked of this man and he blatantly refusing to answer in a professional manner. MVW you have got to realize that questions are been asked on behalf and for members of the public not for Fahie information alone, if you do not want questions to be put to you, then you should vacate your seat in the HOA. The speaker also have a duty to ensure that when questions are put to the Ministers that they provide the answers to the questions asked. Those ministers are very disrespectful and totally out of order.
  • qc (23/09/2016, 04:33) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    House is a joke
  • J'taime (23/09/2016, 21:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ghiz weisel needs to pop


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