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FOI requests head back up after pandemic slump

Government 29 Sep, 2022 Follow News

FOI requests head back up after pandemic slump

International Right to Know Day: 28 September


Well over 400 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were made to the Cayman Islands Government during 2021, and average response times improved markedly, according to a statistical report released by the Ombudsman in anticipation of International Right to Know Day on 28 September 2022.

The 426 FOI requests made in 2021 fell more in line with the numbers seen in pre-pandemic years and nearly doubled the 230 requests made during 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic. Nearly 7,000 open records requests have been made by members of the public since Cayman’s FOI Act took effect in January 2009. 

Government reduced average response times in 2021 to 26 days, down from 30 days in previous years. The Ombudsman, Ms. Sharon Roulstone, welcomed this decrease, saying: “This result is a testament to the work of the Information Managers around the entire public sector. I hope that government will maintain this positive trend in the future.” The FOI Act requires that requests receive a response within 30 calendar days.  

Making an FOI request does not guarantee that the records sought will be released, if they fall under one of the Act’s exemptions, as more than 100 requests did in the last year.

Since 2009, hundreds of FOI requests have been made each year leading to disclosures of public records – either in full or in part – in about two-thirds of the requests made. More than a quarter of all FOI requests in 2021 were made to the RCIPS and WORC.

The FOI Act grants individuals the legal right to access information held by public sector entities. Responding to FOI requests is the duty of every public authority. The Office of the Ombudsman reports annually to Parliament on the usage of the FOI Act, to ensure the process is working and is fair to both applicants and the government.

UNESCO first recognized International Right to Know Day in 2002, and the UN General Assembly proclaimed International Day for Universal Access to Information in 2019. The Cayman Islands has joined some 100 other jurisdictions in marking the day every year since 2008.

For more information about FOI in the Cayman Islands, please see the report attached to this press release and the website of the Ombudsman at www.ombudsman.ky. Individuals wishing to appeal FOI decisions to the Ombudsman may contact our office at 946-6283 or email us at info@ombudsman.ky .  

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