Public Access to Information in Bermuda, and the role of the Information Commissioner

Bermuda recently established the Information Commissioner’s Office (http://www.ico.bm/), whose function it is to promote, oversee, and enforce the provisions of the Public Access to Information Act 2010 (‘the PATI Act’), and the various Regulations made thereunder.

The PATI Act gives the Bermudian public a right to access records that Bermuda public authorities maintain.

Importantly, the PATI Act removes the general discretion of a public officer to decide whether or not to provide requested information. Instead, the PATI Act requires that if a request is made, the public authority may only refuse to turn over the record in certain specific circumstances set out in the law. Otherwise, access to the record must be granted. The PATI Act strikes a balance between the public’s right to access information, and the public authority’s need to keep some information confidential, in appropriate circumstances.

The first, and current, Information Commissioner is Ms. Gitanjali Gutierrez, a US-qualified attorney with an extremely impressive CV.

Ms. Gutierrez was a member of the legal team within the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in Rasul v Bush before the US Supreme Court in 2004 and in Boumediene v Bush in 2008. Following CCR’s 2004 victory in Rasul, Ms Gutierrez conducted the first ever visit by a civilian habeas attorney to Guantanamo Bay military prison in September 2004.

For more information, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gitanjali_S._Gutierrez

http://www.shesource.org/experts/profile/gitanjali-gutierrez

http://witnesstoguantanamo.com/interviews/gitanjaligutierrez/

See also:

http://bernews.com/2016/04/right-independent-review-ico/

http://bernews.com/2016/03/information-commissioner-submits-report-2015/

http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20150304/NEWS/150309887

Q & A with Bermuda’s first Information Commissioner, Gitanjali S. Gutierrez

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