Country

Jamaica

Jamaica

Name of law : The Access to Information Act
First adopted : 2002

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 3
Scope 30 18
Requesting procedures 30 23
Exceptions 30 14
Appeals 30 17
Sanctions 8 5
Promotional measures 16 8
TOTAL 150 88

Introduction:
The chief problem areas within Jamaica's legal framework are a somewhat threadbare approach to promotion and an appeals body that is troublingly susceptible to political pressure. Overly broad exceptions, confusion over whether the information act trumps Jamaica's Official Secrets Act, and the fact that there is almost no public interest override are also problematic, as are the blanket exclusions for the armed forces, police, and Governor General. However, we welcome the recent passage of the Protected Disclosures Act, which will provide protection for whistleblowers.
Right of Access

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1 The legal framework (including jurisprudence) recognises a fundamental right of access to information.Score 0 for no constitutional right to information, 1 point for a limited constitutional right, 2 points for full constitutional recognition of a public right of access to information.2 NO Not mentioned in the constitution.
2 The legal framework creates a specific presumption in favour of access to all information held by public authorities, subject only to limited exceptions.No=0, Partially=1, Yes=22 Partially 2. The objects of this Act are to reinforce and give furt her effect to certain fundam ental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy, namely— (a) governmental accountability; (b) transparency; and (c) public participation in national decision-making, by granting to the public a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities, subject to exemptions which balance that right against the public interest in exempting from disclosure governmental, commercial or personal information of a sensitive nature To some extent, Art 2 does this,
3 3.1 The legal framework contains a specific statement of principles calling for a broad interpretation of the RTI law
3.2 The legal framework emphasises the benefits of the right to information?
3.1(Y/N - max 1 point)
3.2 (Y/N - max 1 point)
2 YES 2. The objects of this Act are to reinforce and give furt her effect to certain fundam ental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy, namely— (a) governmental accountability; (b) transparency; and (c) public participation in national decision-making, by granting to the public a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities, subject to exemptions which balance that right against the public interest in exempting from disclosure governmental, commercial or personal information of a sensitive nature Art 2 ----- Art 2




Scope

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4 Everyone (including non-citizens and legal entities) has the right to file requests for information.Score 0 point if only residents/citizens; 1 point for all natural persons; 1 point for legal persons. 2 NO 6. —(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, every pers on shall have a right to obtain access to an official document, other than an exempt document. (2) The exemption of an official document or part thereof from disclosure shall not apply after the document has been in existence for twenty years, or such shorter or longer period as the Minister may specify by order, subject to affirmative resolution. (3) An applicant for access to an official document sh all not be required to give any reason for requesting access to that document. (4) Where an offi cial document is— (a) open to access by the public pursuant to any ot her enactment, as part of a public register or otherwise; or (b) available for purchase by the pu blic in accordance with administra tive procedures established for that purpose, access to that document shall be obtained in accordan ce with the provisions of that enactment or those procedures, as the case may be
5 The right of access applies to all material held by or on behalf of public authorities which is recorded in any format, regardless of who produced it.Score 1-3 points if limited definition of information information such as not "internal documents" or databases excluded, 4 points for all information with no exceptions.4 Partially 3. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— "appointed day" means the day appointed pursuant to section 1; "document" includes, in addition to a document in writing— (a) any map, plan, graph or drawing; (b) any photograph; (c) any disc, tape, sound track or other device in which sounds or other data (not being visual images) are embodied, whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; (d) any film (including microfilm), negative, tape or other device in which one or more visual images are embodied whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; "exempt document" means a document which by virtue of any provision of Part III is exempt from disclosure; "exempt matter" means any matter the inclusion of which in a document causes that part of the document to be exempt from disclosure; "government company" means a compan y registered under the Companies Ac t, being a company in which the Government or an agency of the Government, whether by the holding of shares or by other financial input, is in a position to influence the policy of the company; "official document" means a document held by a public authority in connection with its functions as such, whether or not it was created— (a) by that authority; or (b) before the commencement of this Act, and for the purposes of this Ac t, a document is held by a public authority if it is in its possession, custody or control; "public authority" means— (a) a Ministry, department, Executive Agency or other agency of Government; (b) a statutory body or authority; (c) a Parish Council; (d) the Council of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation; (e) any government company which— (i) is wholly owned by the Government or an agency of the Government, or in which the Government holds more than 50% shares; or (ii) is specified in an order under section 5 (3); (f) any other body or organization specified in an order under "responsible Minister" means the Mini ster responsible for the public au thority which holds an official document. Art 3 Definition - The definition is somewhat broad, but doesn't mention computerized files or raw data.
6 Requesters have a right to access both information and records/documents (i.e. a right both to ask for information and to apply for specific documents).Score 1 point for only documents, 1 point for information2 NO No mentioned
7 The right of access applies to the executive branch with no bodies or classes of information excluded.This includes executive (cabinet) and adminsitration including all ministries, departments, local government, public schools, public health care bodies, the police, the armed forces, security services, and bodies owned or controlled by the above.Score 4 points for central government agencies covered: 1 for the head of state, 1 for ministries, 1 for other non-statutory agencies created by the ministries, 1 for state and local government if the government is unitary. If it´s a federalist system, 2 points for the non-statutory agencies. This can be determined by examining the length and thoroughness of the list, if such a schedule exists. Score 1 point for the archives. Add three points and deduct 1 for each exempted central agency (such as the armed forces, police, etc).8 Partially 5 .—(1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act applies to— (...)(6) This Act shall not apply to— (a) the Governor-General, in relation to the exer cise of the powers and duties conferred or imposed on him by or under the Constitution of Jamaica or under any other law; (b) the judicial functions of— (i) a court; (ii) the holder of a judicial office or other office connected with a court; (c) the security or intelligence services in relatio n to their strategic or operational intelligence gathering activities; (d) any statutory body or authority as the Minist er may specify by order subject to affirmative resolution(...) (8) In subsection (6) "security or intelligence services" means— (a) the Jamaica Constabulary Force; (b) the Island Special Constabulary Force; (c) the Rural Police; (d) the Jamaica Defence Force. 5.6 and 5.8 - applies broadly to government institutions, but does not apply to Armed Forces, Police, or Governor General.
8 The right of access applies to the legislature, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all legislative branch at all levels of government4 YES 3. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— "appointed day" means the day appointed pursuant to section 1; "document" includes, in addition to a document in writing— (a) any map, plan, graph or drawing; (b) any photograph; (c) any disc, tape, sound track or other device in which sounds or other data (not being visual images) are embodied, whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; (d) any film (including microfilm), negative, tape or other device in which one or more visual images are embodied whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; "exempt document" means a document which by virtue of any provision of Part III is exempt from disclosure; "exempt matter" means any matter the inclusion of which in a document causes that part of the document to be exempt from disclosure; "government company" means a compan y registered under the Companies Ac t, being a company in which the Government or an agency of the Government, whether by the holding of shares or by other financial input, is in a position to influence the policy of the company; "official document" means a document held by a public authority in connection with its functions as such, whether or not it was created— (a) by that authority; or (b) before the commencement of this Act, and for the purposes of this Ac t, a document is held by a public authority if it is in its possession, custody or control; "public authority" means— (a) a Ministry, department, Executive Agency or other agency of Government; (b) a statutory body or authority; (c) a Parish Council; (d) the Council of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation; (e) any government company which— (i) is wholly owned by the Government or an agency of the Government, or in which the Government holds more than 50% shares; or (ii) is specified in an order under section 5 (3); (f) any other body or organization specified in an order under "responsible Minister" means the Mini ster responsible for the public au thority which holds an official document.
9 The right of access applies to the judicial branch, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all judicial branch at all levels of government4 Partially 5 .—(1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act applies to— (...)(6) This Act shall not apply to— (a) the Governor-General, in relation to the exer cise of the powers and duties conferred or imposed on him by or under the Constitution of Jamaica or under any other law; (b) the judicial functions of— (i) a court; (ii) the holder of a judicial office or other office connected with a court;(...) 5.6(b)
10 The right of access applies to State-owned enterprises (commercial entities that are owned or controlled by the State). Score 1 point if some, 2 points if all2 YES 3. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— "appointed day" means the day appointed pursuant to section 1; "document" includes, in addition to a document in writing— (a) any map, plan, graph or drawing; (b) any photograph; (c) any disc, tape, sound track or other device in which sounds or other data (not being visual images) are embodied, whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; (d) any film (including microfilm), negative, tape or other device in which one or more visual images are embodied whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; "exempt document" means a document which by virtue of any provision of Part III is exempt from disclosure; "exempt matter" means any matter the inclusion of which in a document causes that part of the document to be exempt from disclosure; "government company" means a compan y registered under the Companies Ac t, being a company in which the Government or an agency of the Government, whether by the holding of shares or by other financial input, is in a position to influence the policy of the company; "official document" means a document held by a public authority in connection with its functions as such, whether or not it was created— (a) by that authority; or (b) before the commencement of this Act, and for the purposes of this Ac t, a document is held by a public authority if it is in its possession, custody or control; "public authority" means— (a) a Ministry, department, Executive Agency or other agency of Government; (b) a statutory body or authority; (c) a Parish Council; (d) the Council of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation; (e) any government company which— (i) is wholly owned by the Government or an agency of the Government, or in which the Government holds more than 50% shares; or (ii) is specified in an order under section 5 (3); (f) any other body or organization specified in an order under "responsible Minister" means the Mini ster responsible for the public au thority which holds an official document.
11 The right of access applies to other public authorities, including constitutional, statutory and oversight bodies (such as an election commission or information commission/er). Score 1 point if some bodies, 2 points if all2 YES 3. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— "appointed day" means the day appointed pursuant to section 1; "document" includes, in addition to a document in writing— (a) any map, plan, graph or drawing; (b) any photograph; (c) any disc, tape, sound track or other device in which sounds or other data (not being visual images) are embodied, whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; (d) any film (including microfilm), negative, tape or other device in which one or more visual images are embodied whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; "exempt document" means a document which by virtue of any provision of Part III is exempt from disclosure; "exempt matter" means any matter the inclusion of which in a document causes that part of the document to be exempt from disclosure; "government company" means a compan y registered under the Companies Ac t, being a company in which the Government or an agency of the Government, whether by the holding of shares or by other financial input, is in a position to influence the policy of the company; "official document" means a document held by a public authority in connection with its functions as such, whether or not it was created— (a) by that authority; or (b) before the commencement of this Act, and for the purposes of this Ac t, a document is held by a public authority if it is in its possession, custody or control; "public authority" means— (a) a Ministry, department, Executive Agency or other agency of Government; (b) a statutory body or authority; (c) a Parish Council; (d) the Council of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation; (e) any government company which— (i) is wholly owned by the Government or an agency of the Government, or in which the Government holds more than 50% shares; or (ii) is specified in an order under section 5 (3); (f) any other body or organization specified in an order under "responsible Minister" means the Mini ster responsible for the public au thority which holds an official document.
12 The right of access applies to a) private bodies that perform a public function and b) private bodies that receive significant public funding. 1 point for public functions, 1 point for public funding 2 NO 3. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— "appointed day" means the day appointed pursuant to section 1; "document" includes, in addition to a document in writing— (a) any map, plan, graph or drawing; (b) any photograph; (c) any disc, tape, sound track or other device in which sounds or other data (not being visual images) are embodied, whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; (d) any film (including microfilm), negative, tape or other device in which one or more visual images are embodied whether electronically or otherwise, so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom; "exempt document" means a document which by virtue of any provision of Part III is exempt from disclosure; "exempt matter" means any matter the inclusion of which in a document causes that part of the document to be exempt from disclosure; "government company" means a compan y registered under the Companies Ac t, being a company in which the Government or an agency of the Government, whether by the holding of shares or by other financial input, is in a position to influence the policy of the company; "official document" means a document held by a public authority in connection with its functions as such, whether or not it was created— (a) by that authority; or (b) before the commencement of this Act, and for the purposes of this Ac t, a document is held by a public authority if it is in its possession, custody or control; "public authority" means— (a) a Ministry, department, Executive Agency or other agency of Government; (b) a statutory body or authority; (c) a Parish Council; (d) the Council of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation; (e) any government company which— (i) is wholly owned by the Government or an agency of the Government, or in which the Government holds more than 50% shares; or (ii) is specified in an order under section 5 (3); (f) any other body or organization specified in an order under "responsible Minister" means the Mini ster responsible for the public au thority which holds an official document. 5 .—(1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act applies to— (...)(3) The Minister may, by order subject to affirmat ive resolution, declare that this Act shall apply to—(...) (b) any other body or organization which provides services of a public nature which are essential to the welfare of the Jamaican society (...) 3, 5.3(b) - The minister can order that it apply to these bodies but has yet to do so in the 7 years of operation of the Act and it is unclear what the procedure would be for making such a designation. I t might apply but does not in fact apply

Requesting Procedures

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13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES 6(3). An applicant for access to an official document sh all not be required to give any reason for requesting access to that document
14 Requesters are only required to provide the details necessary for identifying and delivering the information (i.e. some form of address for delivery).Score Max 2 points and deduct if requesters are required to give any of the following: ID number, telephone number, residential address, etc.2 YES 7.(2) An application under subsection (1)— (b) shall provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to enable the public authority to identify it. 7(2)(b) – request must contain such info as is necessary to identify info – no mention of anything else.
15 There are clear and relatively simple procedures for making requests. Requests may be submitted by any means of communication, with no requirement to use official forms or to state that the information is being requested under the access to information law.Max 2 points. Considerations include that there is no requirement to state that the request is under the RTI law, nor to use an official form, nor to identify the document being sought. 2 YES (2) An application under subsection (1)— (a) may be made in writing or transmitted by telephone or other electronic means; (b) shall provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to enable the public authority to identify it. 7(2) - Writing, telephone or electronic means.
16 Public officials are required provide assistance to help requesters formulate their requests, or to contact and assist requesters where requests that have been made are vague, unduly broad or otherwise need clarification. Score 1 point for help in formulation and 1 point for clarification procedures2 YES 7(3) A public authority to which an application is made shall— (a) upon request, assist the applicant in iden tifying the documents to which the application relates; (b) acknowledge receipt of every app lication in the prescribed manner; (c) grant to the applicant, access to the document specified in the ap plication if it is not an exempt document. 10.—(1) Where the information provided by the applicant in relation to the document is not such as is reasonably necessary to enable the public authority to identify it, the authority shall afford the applicant a reasonable opportunity to consult with the authority with a view to reformulating the application so that the document can be identified. 7(3) and 10(1) – requirement for officials to assist applicant in identifying document and/or reformulating request
17     Public officials are required to provide assistance to requesters who require it because of special needs, for example because they are illiterate or disabled.Score Yes=2 point, No=02 NO No mentioned
18 Requesters are provided with a receipt or acknowledgement upon lodging a request within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed 5 working daysScore 1 point for receipt, 1 point for max 5 working days2 Partially 7(3) A public authority to which an application is made shall— (a) upon request, assist the applicant in iden tifying the documents to which the application relates; (b) acknowledge receipt of every app lication in the prescribed manner; (c) grant to the applicant, access to the document specified in the ap plication if it is not an exempt document 7(3)(b) – no mention of timeframe.
19 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for situations where the authority to which a request is directed does not have the requested information. This includes an obligation to inform the requester that the information is not held and to refer the requester to another institution or to transfer the request where the public authority knows where the information is held.Score: 1 point for information not held, 1 for referrals or 2 for transfers2 YES 8.—(1) Where an application is made to a public authority for an official document— (a) which is held by another public authority; or (b) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the first mentioned public authority shall transfer the appli cation or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and shall inform th e applicant immediately of the transfer.
20 Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).Score: 2 points for Yes, only 1 point if some limitations2 YES 9(2) Subject to subsection (3), where an applicant requests that access be given in a particular form, access shall be given in that form.
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 YES 7(4) "A public authority shall respond to an application as soon as practicable <...>"
22 There are clear and reasonable maximum timelines (20 working days or less) for responding to requests, regardless of the manner of satisfying the request (including through publication).Score: 1 point for timeframes of 20 working days (or 1 month, 30 days or 4 weeks). Score 2 points for 10 working days (or 15 days, or two weeks) or less.2 Partially 7.4."A public authority shall respond to an application as soon as practicable but not later than— (a) thirty days after the date of receipt of the application; or (b) in the case of an application transferred to it by another authority pursuant to section 8, thirty days after the date of the receipt by that authority, so, however, that an authority may extend the period of thirty days for a further period, not exceeding thirty days, in any case where there is reasonable cause for such extension." ASAP and 30 days. The numbering system in the final indicators is slightly different from that found here, so I decided to score 1 point for 20 working days (or 30 days, or 1 month) and one point if the timeframe is less.
23 There are clear limits on timeline extensions (20 working days or less), including a requirement that requesters be notified and provided with the reasons for the extension.---2 Partially 7(4) A public authority shall respond to an application as soon as practicable but not later than— (a) thirty days after the date of receipt of the application; or (b) in the case of an application transferred to it by another authority pursuant to section 8, thirty days after the date of the receipt by that authority, so, however, that an authority may extend the period of thirty days for a further period, not exceeding thirty days, in any case where there is reasonable cause for such extension. (5) The response of the public authority shall state its decision on the application, and where the authority or body decides to refuse or defer access or to extend the period of thirty da ys, it shall state th e reasons therefor, and the options available to an aggrieved applicant. 7(4)-(5): some restrictions, and a requirement for eventual notification, but this is fuzzy.
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 YES 13. Subject to this Act, where— (a) an application is made in accordance with section 7 for access to an official document; and (b) the cost incurred by the public au thority in granting access has been paid, access to the document shall be gran ted in accordance with this Act. S. 13 - the only costs to be borne are the cost of reproduction.
25 There are clear rules relating to access fees, which are set centrally, rather than being determined by individual public authorities. These include a requirement that fees be limited to the cost of reproducing and sending the information (so that inspection of documents and electronic copies are free) and a certain initial number of pages (at least 20) are provided for free. Score 1 point for fees being limited to reproduction and delivery costs and set centrally, 1 point for at least 20 pages free of charge or for fees being optional2 YES 12. —(1) The cost of reproducing any documents containing information in relation to which an application is made under this Act shall be borne by the applicant. (2) The responsible Minister may waive, reduce or rem it, the cost specified in subsection (1) for access to an official document where he is satisfied that such waiver, reduction or remission is justifiable. S 12 - Mentions that appicants must pay the cost of reproduction, and there includes a waiver for impecunious requesters. Fees are set centrally and there is the posibility of getting a waiver of fees.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 YES 12. —(1) The cost of reproducing any documents containing information in relation to which an application is made under this Act shall be borne by the applicant. (2) The responsible Minister may waive, reduce or rem it, the cost specified in subsection (1) for access to an official document where he is satisfied that such waiver, reduction or remission is justifiable.
27 There are no limitations on or charges for reuse of information received from public bodies, except where a third party (which is not a public authority) holds a legally-protected copyright over the information. Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO Not mentioned


Exceptions

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28 The standards in the RTI Law trump restrictions on information disclosure (secrecy provisions) in other legislation to the extent of any conflict.Score 4 points for a resounding "yes" and 1/2/3 points if only for some classes of information or for some exceptions. If the state secrets law is not trumped by the RTI law max score is 2 points. 4 NO 35(2) Subject to subsection (3), nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of any other Act other than the Official Secrets Act, relating to th e non-disclosure of information. 35(2) - There is a great deal of debate on what this means exactly and whether ATI trumps Official Secrets or vice versa. This score was awarded based on that uncertainty.
29 The exceptions to the right of access are consistent with international standards. Permissible exceptions are: national security; international relations; public health and safety; the prevention, investigation and prosecution of legal wrongs; privacy; legitimate commercial and other economic interests; management of the economy; fair administration of justice and legal advice privilege; conservation of the environment; and legitimate policy making and other operations of public authorities. It is also permissible to refer requesters to information which is already publicly available, for example online or in published form.Score 10 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which either (a) falls outside of this list and/or (b) is more broadly framed10 Partially 5(5) The Minister may, by order subj ect to affirmative resolution, declare that the application of this Act in relation to any government company specified in paragraph (e) (i) of the definition of "public authority" shall be subject to such exceptions, adaptations or modifica tions as the Minister ma y consider appropriate 10(2) A public authority may defer the gr ant of access to an official document— (...) c) if the premature release of the document would be contrary to the public interest, until the occurrence of any event af ter which or the expiration of any period beyond which, the release of the document would not be contrary to the public interest 33. —(1) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as au thorizing the disclosure of any official document— (a) containing any defamatory matter; 15. —(1) An official document is exempt from disclosure if it is a Cabinet document, that is to say— (a) it is a Cabinet Submission, Cabinet Note or other document created for the purpose of submission to the Cabinet for its consideration and it has been or is intended to be submitted; (b) it is a Cabinet Decision, or other official record of any deliberation of the Cabinet. (2) Subsection (1) does not apply, to— (a) any document appended to a Cabinet document that contains material of a purely factual nature or reports, studies, tests or surveys of a scientific or technical nature; or (b) a document by which a decision of the Cabinet has been officially published. 5(5) - gives the minister special powers to exempt government companies, 10(2)(c) – allows for deferrals if its in the public interest, 33(1)(a) – documents containing defamatory matter. Section 15 of the Act excludes all Cabinet documents - overly broad.
30 A harm test applies to all exceptions, so that it is only where disclosure poses a risk of actual harm to a protected interest that it may be refused. Score 4 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which is not subject to the harm test 4 Partially 20. —(1) Subject to subsection (2), an official document is exempt from disclosure if— (a) its disclosure would reveal— (i) trade secrets; (ii) any other information of a commercial value, which value would be, or could reasonably be expected to be, destroyed or diminished if the information were disclosed; 20(1)(a) - trade secrets.
31 There is a mandatory public interest override so that information must be disclosed where this is in the overall public interest, even if this may harm a protected interest. There are ‘hard’ overrides (which apply absolutely), for example for information about human rights, corruption or crimes against humanity.Consider whether the override is subject to overarching limitations, whether it applies to only some exceptions, and whether it is mandatory.4 Partially 19(3) A public authority shall grant acces s to a document referred to in subs ection (1) if it is satisfied, having regard to all the circumstances, that the disclosure thereof would, on balance, be in the public interest. 21 .—(1) Subject to subsection (2), an official document is exempt from disclosure if its disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to result in the destruction of, damage to, or interference with, the conservation of— (a) any historical, archaeological or anthropological resources; (b) anything declared to be a national monument, designated as protected national heritage or protected by a preservation notice under the Jamaica National Heritage Trust Act; (c) any species of plant or anim al life so designated or which is endangered, threatened or otherwise vulnerable; (d) any other rare or endangered living resource. (2) A public authority shall grant acces s to a document referred to in su bsection (1) if it is satisfied, having regard to all the circumstances, that the disclosure thereof would, on balance, be in the public interest Applied to s 19(3) and 21, but very narrowly.
32 Information must be released as soon as an exception ceases to apply (for example, for after a contract tender process decision has been taken). The law contains a clause stating that exceptions to protect public interests do not apply to information which is over 20 years old.Score 1 point for each2 Partially 6(2)(2) The exemption of an official document or part thereof from disclosure shall not apply after the document has been in existence for twenty years, or such shorter or longer period as the Minister may specify by order, subject to affirmative resolution.
33 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for consulting with third parties who provided information which is the subject of a request on a confidential basis. Public authorities shall take into account any objections by third parties when considering requests for information, but third parties do not have veto power over the release of information.Score: 1 point for consultation, 1 further point if original time frames must be respected and the law allows for expedited appeals.2 NO 22. —(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a public authority sh all not grant access to an official document if it would involve the unreasonable disclosure of information relating to the personal affairs of any person, whether living or dead.
34 There is a severability clause so that where only part of a record is covered by an exception the remainder must be disclosed. Score 1 point if yes but sometimes can be refused (eg: if deletions render meaningless the document) and 2 points if partial access must always be granted2 YES 11. —(1) Where an application is made to a public author ity for access to an official document which contains exempt matter, the authority shall grant access to a copy of the document with the exempt matter deleted therefrom.
35 When refusing to provide access to information, public authorities must a) state the exact legal grounds and reason(s) for the refusal and b) inform the applicant of the relevant appeals procedures.Score Y/N: 1 point for a and 1 point for b2 Partially 23. —(1) Where— (a) the Prime Minister is satisfied that an applic ation for access relates to a document specified in section 15 (1); (b) a responsible Minister is satisfied that an app lication for access relates to an official document to which section 14, 16 or 18, as the case may be, applies, the Prime Minister or the responsible Minister, as the case may require, may issue a cer tificate to the effect that the document is an exempt document and sh all specify the basis of the exemption. (2) Where the Prime Minister or a responsible Minister , as the case may be, is satisfied as mentioned in subsection (1) by virtue of anything contained in any particular part or parts of an official document, a certificate issued under that subsection in respect of that document shall iden tify that part or those parts of the document by reason of which the certificate is issued. (3) A certificate issued under su bsection (1) shall be conclusive that the document is exempt. 23(3) requires the government certificate of exemption to specify the ground.


Appeals

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36 The law offers an internal appeal which is simple, free of charge and completed within clear timelines (20 working days or less).Score 2 points if the internal appeal fulfills these criteria, 1 point if an appeal is offered that does not fulfill this criteria, 0 for no internal appeals.2 YES 30. —(1) An applicant for access to an official document may, in accordance with su bsection (4), apply for an internal review of a decision by a public authority to— (a) refuse to grant access to the document; (b) grant access only to some of the docum ents specified in an application; (c) defer the grant of access to the document; (d) charge a fee for action taken or as to the amount of the fee. (2) An applicant for amendment or an notation of a personal record may, in accordance with subsection (4), apply for a review of a decision by a public authority to refuse to make that amendment or annotation. (3) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), a failure to give a decision on any of the matters referred to in subsection (1) (a) to (c) or to amend or annotate a personal record within the time required by this Act shall be regarded as a refusal to do so. (4) An application under subsection (1) or (2) may only be made where the decision to which the application relates was taken by a person other than the responsible Minister, a Permanent Secretar y or the principal officer of the public authority concerned.
37 Requesters have the right to lodge an (external) appeal with an independent administrative oversight body (e.g. an information commission or ombudsman). 1 for partial, 2 for yes2 YES 32. —(1) An appeal shall lie pursuant to subsections (2) and (3), to the tribunal established for that purpose, constituted in accordance with the Second Schedule. (2) A person may lodge an appeal— (a) where internal review under section 30 is applicable— (i) against a decision taken on such review; (ii) if the time specified in section 31 (2) (b) has expired without the applicant being notified of a decision; (b) in any other case, against a relevant decision in relation to any of the matters referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c) of section 30 (1) or sect ion 30 (2), and accordingly section 30 (3) shall apply with necessary modifications to an appeal under this paragraph. (3) An appeal shall be made— (a) by the lodgement of a document within sixty days after the date of the notification to the appellant of the relevant decision or of the decision taken on an internal review; or (b) where no notification has been given within the period required by this Act, within sixty days after the expiration of that period. (4) Where an appeal is not made within the period specified in subsection (2), the Appeal Tribunal may extend that period if it is satisfied that the appellant’s delay in so doing is not unreasonable. (5) On the hearing of an appeal, the onus of proving that the relevant decision was justified or that a decision adverse to the appellant should be made by the Appeal Tribunal, shall lie on the public authority which made the relevant decision. (6) On hearing an appeal, the Appeal Tribunal— (a) may subject to paragraph (b), make any decision which could have been made on the original application; (b) shall not nullify a certificate issued under section 23. (7) The Appeal Tribunal may call for and inspect an exempt document, so however that, where it does so, it shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that th e document is inspected only by members of staff of the Appeal Tribunal acting in that capacity.
38 The member(s) of the oversight body are appointed in a manner that is protected against political interference and have security of tenure so they are protected against arbitrary dismissal (procedurally/substantively) once appointed.Score: 1 point for appointment procedure, 1 point for security of tenure2 NO 2nd schedule – Articles 1 and 7. Technically the GG's has to approve them, but the structure of Jamaica's system minimizes his influence. Practically speaking it is a political appointment.
39 The oversight body reports to and has its budget approved by the parliament, or other effective mechanisms are in place to protect its financial independence.Score 1 point for reports to parliament, 1 point for budget approved by parliament2 NO No financial independence - the tribunal relies on the Ministry of Information for funding.
40 There are prohibitions on individuals with strong political connections from being appointed to this body and requirements of professional expertise.Score 1 point for not politically connected, 1 point for professional expertise2 NO Nothing in the Act suggests this.
41 The independent oversight body has the necessary mandate and power to perform its functions, including to review classified documents and inspect the premises of public bodies.Score 1 point for reviewing classified documents, 1 point for inspection powers2 Partially 32(7) The Appeal Tribunal may call for and inspect an exempt document, so however that, where it does so, it shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that th e document is inspected only by members of staff of the Appeal Tribunal acting in that capacity. 32(7) - Can inspect documents, but no mention of premises.
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 Partially 32(6) On hearing an appeal, the Appeal Tribunal— (a) may subject to paragraph (b), make any decision which could have been made on the original application; (b) shall not nullify a certificate issued under section 23. 32(6) - can order some remedies, but cannot overrule exemptions certificates
43 In deciding an appeal, the independent oversight body has the power to order appropriate remedies for the requester, including the declassification of information. 1 for partial, 2 for fully2 NO 32(6) On hearing an appeal, the Appeal Tribunal— (a) may subject to paragraph (b), make any decision which could have been made on the original application; (b) shall not nullify a certificate issued under section 23. 32(6) - cannot overrule exemptions
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES All public bodies (including Tribunals) are subject to Judicial Review though this is not explicit in the Act
45 Appeals to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are free of charge and do not require legal assistance.1 for free, 1 for no lawyer required. 2 YES No mention of fees, and no requirement for a lawyer - though the procedure is so complicated that, practically speaking, a lawyer is needed.
46 The grounds for appeal to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are broad (including not only refusals to provide information but also refusals to provide information in the form requested, administrative silence and other breach of timelines, charging excessive fees, etc.).Score 1 point for appealing refusals, additional points for appealing other violations.4 YES 30. —(1) An applicant for access to an official document may, in accordance with su bsection (4), apply for an internal review of a decision by a public authority to— (a) refuse to grant access to the document; (b) grant access only to some of the docum ents specified in an application; (c) defer the grant of access to the document; (d) charge a fee for action taken or as to the amount of the fee.
47 Clear procedures, including timelines, are in place for dealing with external appeals (oversight/judicial).Score 1 point for clear procedures, 1 point for timelines. 2 Partially No timelines, but clear procedures have been set out in the Tribunal Regulations adopted by Parliament
48 In the appeal process (oversight/judicial/) the government bears the burden of demonstrating that it did not operate in breach of the rules.Score Y/N and award 2 points for yes. 2 YES 32(5) On the hearing of an appeal, the onus of proving that the relevant decision was justified or that a decision adverse to the appellant should be made by the Appeal Tribunal, shall lie on the public authority which made the relevant decision.
49 The external appellate body has the power to impose appropriate structural measures on the public authority (e.g. to conduct more training or to engage in better record management)1 for partial, 2 for fully. 2 NO No mentioned


Sanctions & Proteccions

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50 Sanctions may be imposed on those who wilfully act to undermine the right to information, including through the unauthorised destruction of information.Score 1 point for sanctions for underming right, 1 point for destruction of documents 2 YES 34. —(1) A person commits an offence, if in relation to an official document to which a right of access is conferred under this Act he— (a) alters or defaces; (b) blocks or erases; (c) destroys; or (d) conceals, the document with the intention of preventing its disclosure. (2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction in a Resident Magistrate’s Court to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
51 There is a system for redressing the problem of public authorities which systematically fail to disclose information or underperform (either through imposing sanctions on them or requiring remedial actions of them).Score 1 point for either remedial action or sanctions, 2 points for both 2 NO No mentioned
52 The independent oversight body and its staff are granted legal immunity for acts undertaken in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function under the RTI Law. Others are granted similar immunity for the good faith release of information pursuant to the RTI Law.Score 1 for oversight body, 1 for immunity for others2 Partially 33(2) Where access to a document referred to in subsection (1) is granted in the bona fide belief that the grant of such access is required by this Act, no action for defama tion, breach of confidence or breach of copyright shall lie against— (a) the Government or any public authority, any Minister or any public officer involved in the grant of such access, by reason of the gran t of access or of any republication of that document; or (b) the author of the document or any other person who supplied the document to the Government or the public authority, in respect of the publi cation involved in or resulting from the grant of access, by reason of having so supplied the document. 35. —(1) Where access to an official document is granted in accordance with this Act, the person who authorizes such access and any other person concerned in the granting thereof shall not, by reason only of so doing, be guilty of a criminal offence. (2) Subject to subsection (3), nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of any other Act other than the Official Secrets Act, relating to th e non-disclosure of information. (3) For the avoidance of any doubt, it is hereby declared that the Official Secrets Act shall apply in relation to the grant of access to an official document in contravention of this Act. 33(2) and 35 provide protection from defamation suits or breach of confidence only.
53 There are legal protections against imposing sanctions on those who, in good faith, release information which discloses wrongdoing (i.e. whistleblowers).Score 2 for strong protections, 1 for moderate protections2 YES Protected Disclosures Act


Promotional measures

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54 Public authorities are required to appoint dedicated officials (information officers) or units with a responsibility for ensuring that they comply with their information disclosure obligations.Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES This is in the ATI Regulations
55 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, is given overall responsibility for promoting the right to information. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO No mentioned
56 Public awareness-raising efforts (e.g. producing a guide for the public or introducing RTI awareness into schools) are required to be undertaken by law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO No mentioned
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO No mentioned
58 Public authorities are required to create and update lists or registers of the documents in their possession, and to make these public. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 4 of the Act requires publication and updating of "an initial statement of its organization and functions containing the information specified in the First Schedule. (2) The provisions of the First Schedule shall apply for the purposes of making available to the public the documents described in that Schedule. (3) The information required under subsection (1) shall be published in such manner and shall be updated with such frequency as may be prescribed."
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO No mentioned
60 Public authorities are required to report annually on the actions they have taken to implement their disclosure obligations. This includes statistics on requests received and how they were dealt with. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 36(3)"Each public authority shall submit to the Minister, (...)"
61 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, has an obligation to present a consolidated report to the legislature on implementation of the law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 36. —(1) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each year (but not later than the 30th of June in the following year) prepare a report of the operation of this Act during the year, containing the matters specified in subsection (4) 36(1) – The minister prepares such a report for parliament.