Country

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago

Name of law : The Freedom of Information Act
First adopted : 1999

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 3
Scope 30 24
Requesting procedures 30 15
Exceptions 30 20
Appeals 30 15
Sanctions 8 3
Promotional measures 16 9
TOTAL 150 89

Introduction:
Trinidad's law has several strengths, including a broad scope and somewhat effective promotional mechanism. However its biggest structural weakness is that, rather than a specialist body, appeals against refusals are channeled to the Ombudsman. This institution lacks the structural framework to effectively perform this function. The Ombudsman's unease in this role is reinforced by their website, which repeatedly urges users to try and handle matters themselves rather than coming to them with a complaint. Other problems with the law include vague rules surrounding fees and the fact that many exceptions are not harm tested. It bears mentioning that we were unfortunately unable to obtain help from a local expert for this country, however our reviewer conducted supplemental research and was able to locate further information, including the Ombudsman Act, and as a result we remain fairly confident in the accuracy of this result.
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 YES 3. "(1) The object of this Act is to extend the righ t of members of the public to access to information in the possession of public authorities by - (...) (b) creating a general right of access to informati on in documentary form in the possession of public authorities limited only by exceptions and exemptio ns necessary for the protection of essential public interests and the private and business affairs of persons in respect of whom information is collected and held b y public authorities."
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 Partially 3. (2) The provisions of this Act shall be interpreted so as to further the object set out in subsection (1) and any discretion conferred by this Act shall be exercised as far as possible so as to facilitate and promote , promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost, the disclosure o f information. 1 - Art 3(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 Partially 11. (1) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary and sub ject to the provisions of this act, it shall be the right of every person to obtain access to an official docume nt. 11(1) - every person. No mention of legal persons.
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 YES 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. Art 4 - information in any form
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 YES 13. (4) Subject to section 21, a request under this section may be made for access to all records of a par ticular description or all records relating to a particular subject. 13(4) allows requesters to ask questions.
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 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. Art 4 definiitions include cabinet, ministries and their divisions or departments, and municipal governments, state controlled or established companies or bodies corporate and statutory bodies. Does not apply to the president (minus 1) or presidential commissions (minus 1).
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 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. Art 4 definitions
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 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. 5. (2) For the purposes of this Act - (a) in relation to its or his judicial functions, a court or the holder of a judicial office or other office pertaining to a court in his capacity as the holder of that offic e, shall not be regarded as a public authority; (b) a registry or other office of Court Administrat ion, and the staff of such a registry or other offi ce of Court Administration in their capacity as members of that staff in relation to those matters which relate to Court administration, shall be regarded as part of a publ ic authority Art 4 definitions includes some courts, but 5(2) limits that to administrative documents.
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 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. Art 4 definitions
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 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. Art 4 includes statutory bodies and commissions est under the constitution..
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 YES 4. In this Act - "applicant" means a person who has made a request i n accordance with section 13; "designated officer", in relation to a pubic author ity, means the person referred to in section 7 (1)( a) (vi); "document" means information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram, photogr aph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-readable record or any record which is capa ble of being produced from a machine-readable recor d by means of equipment or a programme (or a combinat ion of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority which holds the record; "exempt document" means a document referred to in P art IV; "exempt information" means information the inclusio n of which in a document causes the document to be an exempt document; "Minister" means the Minister of Government to whom responsibility for information is assigned; "official document" means a document held by a publ ic authority in connection with its functions as su ch, whether or not it was created by that authority, an d whether or not it was created before the commence ment of this Act and, for the purposes of this definitio n, a document is held by a public authority if it i s in its possession, custody or power; "personal information" means information about an i ndividual, including - (a) information relating to the race, national or e thnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex or marital or family status of the individual; (b) information relating to the education or the me dical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal or empl oyment history of the individual or information relating t o financial transactions in which the individual ha s been involved; (c) any identifying number, symbol or other particu lar assigned to the individual; (d) the address, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual; (e) the personal opinions or views of the individua l except where they relate to another individual; (f) correspondence sent to a public authority by th e individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspond ence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; (g) the views or opinions of another individual abo ut the individual; and (h) the individual's name where it appears with oth er personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other perso nal information about the individual; "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by re gulations made under section 41; "public authority" means - (a) Parliament, a Joint Select Committee of Parliam ent or a committee of either House of Parliament; (b) subject to section 5(2), the Court of Appeal, t he High Court, the Industrial Court, the Tax Appeal Board or a court of summary jurisdiction; (c) the Cabinet as constituted under the Constituti on; (d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Min istry; (e) the Tobago House of Assembly, the Executive Cou ncil of the Tobago House of Assembly or a division of the Tobago House of Assembly; (f) a municipal corporation established under the M unicipal Corporations Act, 1990; (g) a regional health authority established under t he Regional Health Authorities Act, 1994; (h) a statutory body, responsibility for which is a ssigned to a Minster of Government; (i) a company incorporated under the laws of the Re public of Trinidad and Tobago which is owned or controlled by the State; (j) a Service Commission established under the Cons titution or other written law; or (k) a body corporate or unincorporated entity - (I) in relation to any function which it exercises on behalf of the State; (II) which is established by virtue of the Presiden t's prerogative, by a Minister of Government in his capacity as such or by another public authority; or (III) which is supported, directly or indirectly, b y Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control; "responsible Minister", in relation to a public aut hority means - (a) the Minister of Government to whom responsibili ty for the public authority is assigned; or (b) such Minister of Government as the President ma y, by Order, declare to be the responsible Minister of the public authority for the purposes of this Act; "Tobago House of Assembly" means the Tobago House o f Assembly established under the Constitution. Art 4 definitions include both

Requesting Procedures

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES 21. (4) In deciding whether to refuse, under subsection (1), to grant access to documents, a public author ity shall not have regard to - (a) any reasons that the applicant gives for reques ting access; or (b) the public authority's belief as to what are th e applicant's reasons for requesting access. 21(4)(b) provides some protection in this regard, and the prescribed form has no space for "reasons:
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 Partially 1. Name of Public Authority 2. Name of Applicant 3. Address of Applicant 4. Telephone Number of Applicant Schedule 1 - requires a telephone #.
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 Partially 5. Doc. No. Description of Document(s) Requested Fo rm of Access 1. 2. 3. (NOTE: Applicants shall identify the document(s), o r provide sufficient information to enable an officer/employee or the public authority who is fam iliar with the relevant documents, to identify the document(s) requested with reasonable effort. Continue on a separate page if necessary. Subject to the provisions of the Act, access to a d ocument may be granted by supplying a printed copy of it or by making it available for inspection or, if approp riate, by supplying a copy of a type, disk, film or other material containing the information, by supplying a transcript of such tape, disk, film or other mater ial or by making arrangements for the hearing or viewing of s uch tape, disk, film or other material). 6. Assuming that all documents requested are exempt documents, give the Doc. No. of the documents described above of which you would like to have acc ess to an edited version, if possible. .................................................................. The making of this request is free of charge, but w here access to a document is to be given in the form of a copy (printed or otherwise), the applican t shall be required to pay the prescribed fee. Date of Application Signature of Applicant Schedule 1 - requirement for an official form.
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 14. (1) A public authority shall take reasonable st eps to assist any person who - (a) wishes to make a request under section 13; or (b) has made a request which does not comply with t he requirements of section 13 (2), to make a request in a manner which complies with t hat section. (2) Where a request in writing is made to a public authority for access to an official document, the p ublic authority shall not refuse to comply with the reque st on the ground that the request does not comply w ith section 13(2), without first giving the applicant a reasonable opportunity of consultation with the pu blic authority with a view to the making of a request in a form that does comply with that section. 14(1) requires reasonable assistance. 14(2) requires clarification.
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 YES 14. "(1) A public authority shall take reasonable st eps to assist any person who - (a) wishes to make a request under section 13; or (b) has made a request which does not comply with t he requirements of section 13 (2), to make a request in a manner which complies with t hat section.(...) (3) Without prejudice to section 21, a public autho rity shall take reasonable steps to assist any pers on in the exercise of any other right under this Act." 14(1) and 14(3) - while not mentioning this explicitly, seem to cover this.
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 NO No mentioned
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 NO No mentioned
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 NO No mentioned
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 YES 15. A public authority shall take reasonable steps to enable an applicant to be notified of the approv al or refusal of his request as soon as practicable but i n any case not later than thirty days after the day on which the request is duly made. Article 15" A public authority shall take reasonable steps to enable an applicant to be notified of the approval or refusal of his request as soon as practicable but in any case not later than thirty days after the day on which the request is duly made."
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 Article 15 "A public authority shall take reasonable steps to enable an applicant to be notified of the approval or refusal of his request as soon as practicable but in any case not later than thirty days after the day on which the request is duly made." 30 days
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 YES No extensions.
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 YES 17. (1) No fee shall be charged by a public authori ty for the making of a request for access to an off icial document. (2) Where access to an official document is to be g iven in the form of printed copies, or copies in so me other form, such as on tape, disk, film or other material , the applicant shall pay the prescribed fee. (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), where a public authority fails to comply with section 15, any acce ss to official documents to which the applicant is entitl ed pursuant to his request shall be provided free o f charge. (4) Notwithstanding subsection (2), where a public authority fails, to give an applicant access to an official document within seven working days of the payment o f the relevant fee pursuant to section 16(1)[c], th e applicant shall, in addition to access to the offic ial document requested, be entitled to a refund of the fee paid. (5) The fees payable by the applicant shall be comm ensurate with the cost incurred in making documents available.
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 NO 12. A person is not entitled to obtain, in accordan ce with the procedure provided for in this Part, ac cess to - (a) a document which contains information that is o pen to public access, as part of a public register or otherwise, in accordance with another written law, where that access is subject to a fee or other char ge; 17. (5) The fees payable by the applicant shall be comm ensurate with the cost incurred in making documents available. 12(a) allows for general access fees to some categories of documents. Fees are also not centrally set, Art 17(5) restricts them to the cost incurred in making the documents available - this allows authorities to charge for searching time.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 NO Not mentioned.
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

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 Partially 11. (1) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary and sub ject to the provisions of this act, it shall be the right of every person to obtain access to an official docume nt. 34. A document is an exempt document if there is in force a written law applying specifically to infor mation of a kind contained in the document and prohibiting pers ons referred to in the written law from disclosing information of that king, whether the prohibition i s absolute or is subject to exceptions or qualifica tions. 11(1) - "notwithstanding any law to the contrary", but Art 34 allows material exempted by other laws to remain exempt.
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. "(1) This Act does not apply to - (...) (c) such public authority or function of a public a uthority as the President may, by Order subject to negative resolution of Parliament, determine.(...)" 5(1)(c) gives the president a blanket exemption for any agency they like.
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 NO 24. (1) A document is an exempt document if it is - (a) the official record of any deliberation or deci sion of Cabinet; (b) a document that has been prepared by a Minister of Government or on his behalf or by a public auth ority for the purpose of submission for consideration by Cabinet or a document which has been considered by Cabinet and which is related to issues that are or have been before Cabinet; (c) a document prepared for the purpose of briefing a Minister of Government in relation to issues to be considered by Cabinet; (d) a document that is a copy or draft of, or conta ins extracts from, a document referred to in paragr aph (a), (b) or (c); or (e) a document the disclosure of which would involv e the disclosure of any deliberation or decision of Cabinet, other than a document by which a decision of Cabine t was officially published. 26. "A document is an exempt document if disclosure under this Act would be contrary to the public inte rest and disclosure - (...) (d) would divulge any information communicated in c onfidence by or on behalf of an international organ isation of states or a body thereof to the Government of th e Republic of Trinidad and Tobago or to a person re ceiving a communication on behalf of that international org anisation or body." 27. (1) Subject to this section, a document is an e xempt document if it is a document the disclosure o f which under this Act - (a) would disclose matter in the nature of opinion, advice or recommendation prepared by an officer or Minister of Government, or consultation or delibera tion that has taken between officers, Ministers of Government, or an officer and a Minister of Governm ent, in the course of, or for the purpose of, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of a public authority; and (b) would be contrary to the public interest. (2) In the case of a document of the kind referred to in section 8(1), the matter referred to in subse ction (1)(a) does not include - (a) matter that is provided for the use or guidance of, or is used or may be used for, the purpose of making decisions or recommendations, or enforcing written laws or schemes, referred to in section 8(1); (b) factual information; (c) the analysis, interpretation or evaluation of, or any projection based on factual information; (d) a statistical survey; (e) a report by a valuator, whether or not the valu ator is an officer of the public authority; (f) an environmental impact statement or similar re cord; (g) a report of a test carried out on a product for the purpose of purchasing equipment for a public a uthority or a consumer test report; (h) a report or study on the performance or efficie ncy of a public authority, whether the report or st udy is of a general nature or is in respect of a particular pro gramme or policy; (i) a feasibility or other technical study, includi ng a cost estimate, relating to a policy or project of a public authority; (j) a report containing the results of field resear ch undertaken before the formulation of a policy pr oposal; (k) a final plan or proposal to change a programme of a public authority, or for the establishment of a new programme, including a budgetary estimate for the p rogramme, whether or not the plan or proposal is su bject to approval, unless the plan or proposal is to be s ubmitted to Cabinet or a committee or subcommittee of Cabinet; (l) a report of an interdepartmental committee task force within a public authority, which has been es tablished for the purpose of preparing a report on a particul ar topic, unless the report is to be submitted to C abinet or a committee or subcommittee of Cabinet; (m) a report of a committee, council or other body which is attached to a public authority and which h as been established for the purpose of undertaking inquirie s and making reports and recommendations to the pub lic authority; (n) the reasons for a final decision, order or ruli ng of a public authority made during or at the conc lusion of the exercise of discretionary power conferred by or und er a written law or scheme administered by the publ ic authority, whether or not the written law or scheme allows an appeal to be taken against the decision, order or ruling, and whether or not the reasons - (I) are contained in an internal memorandum of the public authority or in a letter from an officer or employee of the pubic authority; or (II) were given by the officer who made the decisio n, order or ruling or were incorporated by referenc e into the decision, order or ruling. (3) Where a decision is made under Part III that an applicant is not entitled to access to a document by reason of the application of this section, the notice unde r section 23 shall state the public interest consid erations on which the decision is based. (4) Subsection (1) shall cease to apply to a docume nt brought into existence on or after the commencem ent of this Act when a period of ten years has elapsed sin ce the last day of the year in which the document c ame into existence. 31. (1) A document is an exempt document if its dis closure under this Act would disclose information a cquired by a public authority from a business, commercial o r financial undertaking, and - (a) the information relates to trade secrets or oth er matters of a business, commercial or financial n ature; 24(1) - cabinet documents. 26(d) information received in confidence. Art 27 Ministerial documents. 31(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 26. A document is an exempt document if disclosure under this Act would be contrary to the public inte rest and disclosure - (a) would prejudice relations between the Governmen t of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the government of any other State; (b) would prejudice relations between the Governmen t of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and an international organisation of States or a body ther eof; (c) would divulge any information or matter communi cated in confidence by or on behalf of the governme nt of another State to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago or to a person receiving a communication on behalf of the government of that S tate; or (d) would divulge any information communicated in c onfidence by or on behalf of an international organ isation of states or a body thereof to the Government of th e Republic of Trinidad and Tobago or to a person re ceiving a communication on behalf of that international org anisation or body. 27. (1) Subject to this section, a document is an e xempt document if it is a document the disclosure o f which under this Act - (a) would disclose matter in the nature of opinion, advice or recommendation prepared by an officer or Minister of Government, or consultation or delibera tion that has taken between officers, Ministers of Government, or an officer and a Minister of Governm ent, in the course of, or for the purpose of, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of a public authority; and (b) would be contrary to the public interest. (2) In the case of a document of the kind referred to in section 8(1), the matter referred to in subse ction (1)(a) does not include - (a) matter that is provided for the use or guidance of, or is used or may be used for, the purpose of making decisions or recommendations, or enforcing written laws or schemes, referred to in section 8(1); (b) factual information; (c) the analysis, interpretation or evaluation of, or any projection based on factual information; (d) a statistical survey; (e) a report by a valuator, whether or not the valu ator is an officer of the public authority; (f) an environmental impact statement or similar re cord; (g) a report of a test carried out on a product for the purpose of purchasing equipment for a public a uthority or a consumer test report; (h) a report or study on the performance or efficie ncy of a public authority, whether the report or st udy is of a general nature or is in respect of a particular pro gramme or policy; (i) a feasibility or other technical study, includi ng a cost estimate, relating to a policy or project of a public authority; (j) a report containing the results of field resear ch undertaken before the formulation of a policy pr oposal; (k) a final plan or proposal to change a programme of a public authority, or for the establishment of a new programme, including a budgetary estimate for the p rogramme, whether or not the plan or proposal is su bject to approval, unless the plan or proposal is to be s ubmitted to Cabinet or a committee or subcommittee of Cabinet; (l) a report of an interdepartmental committee task force within a public authority, which has been es tablished for the purpose of preparing a report on a particul ar topic, unless the report is to be submitted to C abinet or a committee or subcommittee of Cabinet; (m) a report of a committee, council or other body which is attached to a public authority and which h as been established for the purpose of undertaking inquirie s and making reports and recommendations to the pub lic authority; (n) the reasons for a final decision, order or ruli ng of a public authority made during or at the conc lusion of the exercise of discretionary power conferred by or und er a written law or scheme administered by the publ ic authority, whether or not the written law or scheme allows an appeal to be taken against the decision, order or ruling, and whether or not the reasons - (I) are contained in an internal memorandum of the public authority or in a letter from an officer or employee of the pubic authority; or (II) were given by the officer who made the decisio n, order or ruling or were incorporated by referenc e into the decision, order or ruling. (3) Where a decision is made under Part III that an applicant is not entitled to access to a document by reason of the application of this section, the notice unde r section 23 shall state the public interest consid erations on which the decision is based. (4) Subsection (1) shall cease to apply to a docume nt brought into existence on or after the commencem ent of this Act when a period of ten years has elapsed sin ce the last day of the year in which the document c ame into existence. 28. (1) Subject to this section, a document is an e xempt document if its disclosure under this Act wou ld, or would be reasonably likely to - (a) prejudice the investigation of a breach or poss ible breach of the law or prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law in a particular instance; (b) prejudice the fair trial of a person or the imp artial adjudication of a particular case; (c) disclose, or enable a person to ascertain, the identity of a confidential source of information in relation to the enforcement or administration of the law; (d) disclose methods or procedures for preventing, detecting, investigating, or dealing with matters a rising out of, breaches or evasions of the law the disclosure of which would, or would be reasonably likely to, p rejudice the effectiveness of those methods or procedures; o r (e) endanger the lives or physical safety of person s engaged in or in connection with law enforcement or persons who have provided confidential information in relation to the enforcement or administration of the law. (2) This section does not apply to any document tha t is - (a) a document revealing that the scope of a law en forcement investigation has exceeded the limits imp osed by law; (b) a document revealing the use of illegal methods or procedures for preventing, detecting, investiga ting, or dealing with matters arising out of, breaches or ev asions of the law; (c) a document containing any general outline of th e structure of any programme adopted by a public au thority for investigating breaches of, or enforcing or admi nistering the law; (d) a report on the degree of success achieved in a ny programme adopted by a public authority for investigating breaches of, or enforcing or administ ering, the law; (e) a report prepared in the course of routine law enforcement inspections or investigations by a publ ic authority which has the function of enforcing and r egulating compliance with a particular law other th an the criminal law; (f) a report on a law enforcement investigation, wh ere the substance of the report has been disclosed to the person who, or the body which, was the subject of t he investigation, if it is in the public interest t hat access to the document should be granted under this Act. 35. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary a publi c authority shall give access to an exempt document where there is reasonable evidence that significant - (a) abuse of authority or neglect in the performanc e of official duty; (b) injustice to an individual; (c) danger to the health or safety of an individual or of the public; or (d) unauthorised use of public funds, has or is likely to have occurred and if in the cir cumstances giving access to the document is justifi ed in the public interest having regard both to any benefit a nd to any damage that may arise from doing so. Public interest is mentioned with regards to exceptions in Art 26 and 27 and 28. Art 35 is a blanket public interest override for certain instances.
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 Sunset clauses are applied to a few of the exceptions
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 YES 30. (3) Where a request by a person other than a person referred to in subsection (2) is made to a public authority for access to a document containing personal inform ation of any individual (including a deceased indiv idual) and the public authority decides to grant access to the document, the public authority shall, if pract icable, notify the individual who is the subject of that in formation (or in the case of a deceased individual, that individual's next-of-kin) of the decision and of th e right to apply to the High Court for judicial rev iew of the decision and the time within which the application for review is required to be made.
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 16. (2) Where - (a) a decision is made not to grant a request for a ccess to a document on the ground that it is an exe mpt document; (b) it is practicable for the public authority to g rant access to a copy of the document with such del etions a to make the copy not an exempt document; and (c) it appears from the request, or the applicant s ubsequently indicates, that the applicant would wis h to have access to such a copy, the public authority shall give the applicant acces s to such a copy of the document. º
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 YES 23. (1) Where in relation to a request for access t o a document of a public authority, a decision is m ade under this Part that the applicant is not entitled to acc ess to the document in accordance with the request or that provision of access to the document be deferred or that no such document exists, the public authority shall cause the applicant to be given notice in writing o f the decision, and the notice shall - (a) state the findings on any material question of fact, referring to the material on which those find ings were based, and the reasons for the decision; (b) where the decision relates to a public authorit y, state the name and designation of the person giv ing the decision; (c) where the decision does not relate to a request for access to a document which if it existed, woul d be an exempt document but access is given to a document i n accordance with section 16(2), state that the document is a copy of a document from which exempt information has been deleted; (d) inform the applicant of his right to apply to t he High Court for judicial review of the decision a nd the time within which the application for review is required to be made; (e) where the decision is to the effect that the do cument does not exist or cannot, after a thorough a nd diligent search, be located, inform the applicant of his rig ht to complain to the Ombudsman.


Appeals

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 NO 10. (1) A person may serve upon a public authority a notice in writing stating that, in the opinion of the person a statement published by the public authority under section 8(2)(a) or (b) or section 9(2)(a) or (b) d oes not specify a document as described in section 8(1) or 9(1) that was required to be specified in the state ment. 10(1) allows for internal appeals, but only against substandard proactive publication.
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 38A. (1) A person aggrieved by the refusal of a pub lic authority to grant access to an official docume nt, may, within twenty-one days of receiving notice of the r efusal under section 23(1), complain in writing to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman shall, after examining the document if it exists, make such recommendations with respect to the granting of acc ess to the document as he thinks fit. (2) In recommendations under subsection (1), the Om budsman - (a) is not required to include any matter that is o f such a nature that its inclusion in a document of a public authority would cause that document to be an exempt document; (b) may state the recommendations in terms which ne ither confirm or deny the existence of any document , if the recommendations relate to a request for access to a document which is an exempt document under section 24, 25 or 28 or which, if it existed, would be an exempt document under section 24, 25 or 28. (3) A public authority is required to consider the recommendations of the Ombudsman and, to such exten t as it thinks fit, exercise its discretion in giving ef fect to the recommendations. Art 38A - to the ombudsman
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 Partially 91. (1) There shall be an Ombudsman for Trinidad and Tobago who shall be an officer of Parliament and who shall not hold any other office of emolument whether in the public service or otherwise nor engage in any occupation for reward other than the duties of his office. (2) The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. (3) The Ombudsman shall hold office for a term not exceeding five years and is eligible for re-appointment. (4) Subject to subsection (3), the Ombudsman shall hold office in accordance with section 136. (5) Before entering upon the duties of his office, the Ombudsman shall take and subscribe the oath of office before the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 136. (8) A decision that the question of removing the officer from office ought to be investigated may be made at any time- (a) in the case of the Ombudsman, by resolution of the House of Representatives; and (b) in any other case, by the President either on his own initiative or upon the representation of the Prime Minister. Constitution Art 91 requires "consultation" with the opposition, but the position is nonetheless appointed by the president. Const 136(8) allows parliament initiate an investigation into the dismissal of the Ombudsman, which will be carried out by an independent tribunal. This seems a reasonable guarantee of tenure.
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 YES 136. (6) The salary and allowances payable to the holder of any office to which subsection (1) and subsections (3) to (11) apply or an office referred to in subsections (13) to (16) and his other terms of service shall not be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment and for the purposes of this subsection, in so far as the terms of service of any person depend upon the option of that person, the terms for which he opts shall be taken to be more advantageous to him than any other terms for which he might have opted. The Ombudsman reports to parliament - http://www.ombudsman.gov.tt/ . Const 136(6) states that the Ombudsman cannot have his salary lowered.
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 Partially The Ombudsman's website states repeatedly that this is an independent office, and indications are that this is the case. Although reviewer could not find this specifically spelled out in the law, in the absence of having a local expert to question I will give them a point here.
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 97. (1) The Ombudsman shall have the powers of the High Court to summon witnesses to appear before him and LO compel them to give evidence on oath and to produce documents relevant to the proceedings before him and all persons giving evidence at those proceedings shall have the same duties and liabilities and enjoy the same privileges as in the High Court. (2) The Ombudsman shall have power to enter and inspect the premises of any department of government or any authority to which section 93 applies, to call for, examine and where necessary retain any document kept on such premises and there to carry out any investigation in pursuance of his functions. Constitution Art 97 gives them the same power as a Court, but Article 4(3) restrict's Ombudsman's power to compel disclosure where this would violate other secrecy laws. This is further limited by 5(1). OA 7(9) allows inspection of premises.
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 NO 38A. (3) A public authority is required to consider the recommendations of the Ombudsman and, to such exten t as it thinks fit, exercise its discretion in giving ef fect to the recommendations.
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 3. (4) Where, during or after any investigation, the Ombudsman is of the opinion that there is evidence of any breach of duty, misconduct or criminal offence on the part of any officer or employee of any department or authority to which Section 93 of the Constitution applies, the Ombudsman may refer the matter to the Authority competent to take such disciplinary or other proceedings against him as may be appropriate. The Ombudsman can refer the matter to other authorities, but cannot impose their own solutions - OA 3(4). It is unclear whether they can recommend declassification.
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES 39. (1) For the removal of doubt, a person aggrieve d by a decision of a public authority under this Ac t may apply to the High Court for judicial review of the decision. (2) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, where an application for judicial review of a decis ion of a public authority under this Act is made to the High Court, that application shall be heard and determi ned by a Judge in Chambers, unless the Court, with the conse nt of the parties, directs otherwise. (3) In this section, "decision of a public authorit y" includes the failure of a public authority to co mply with section 15 or 16(1).
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 (7) For the purposes of Section 93 (2) of the Constitution a complaint may be made by a person aggrieved himself or, if he is dead or for any reason unable to act for himself, by any person duly authorized to represent him. 98. (4) No complainant may be required to pay any fee in respect of. his complaint or request or for any investigation to be made by the Ombudsman. The complaints procedure set out on the website does not require a lawyer - reinforced by S 3(7) of th OA. Const Art 98(4) says that fees cannot be charged for complaints.
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 Partially 38A. (1) A person aggrieved by the refusal of a pub lic authority to grant access to an official docume nt, may, within twenty-one days of receiving notice of the r efusal under section 23(1), complain in writing to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman shall, after examining the document if it exists, make such recommendations with respect to the granting of acc ess to the document as he thinks fit. (2) In recommendations under subsection (1), the Om budsman - (a) is not required to include any matter that is o f such a nature that its inclusion in a document of a public authority would cause that document to be an exempt document; (b) may state the recommendations in terms which ne ither confirm or deny the existence of any document , if the recommendations relate to a request for access to a document which is an exempt document under section 24, 25 or 28 or which, if it existed, would be an exempt document under section 24, 25 or 28. (3) A public authority is required to consider the recommendations of the Ombudsman and, to such exten t as it thinks fit, exercise its discretion in giving ef fect to the recommendations. 93. (2) The Ombudsman may investigate any such matter in any of the following circumstances: (a) where a complaint is duly made to the Ombudsman by any person alleging that the complainant has sustained an injustice as a result of a fault in administration; (b) where a member of the House of Representatives requests the Ombudsman to investigate the matter on the ground that a person or body of persons specified in the request has or may have sustained such injustice; (c) in any other circumstances in which the Ombudsman considers that he ought to investigate the matter on the ground that some person or body of persons has or may have sustained such injustice. (3) The authorities other than departments of Government to which this section applies are- (a) local authorities or other bodies established for purposes of the public service or of local Government; (b) authorities or bodies the majority of whose members are appointed by the President or by a Minister or whose revenues consist wholly or mainly of moneys provided out of public funds; (c) any authority empowered to determine the person with whom any contract shall be entered into by or on behalf of Government; (d) such other authorities as may be prescribed. 94. (1) In investigating any matter leading to, resulting from or connected with the decision of a Minister, the Ombudsman shall not inquire into or question the policy of the Minister in accordance with which the decision was made. (2) The Ombudsman shall have power to investigate complaints of administrative injustice under section 93 notwithstanding that such complaints raise questions as to the integrity or corruption of the public service or any department or office of the public service, and may investigate any conditions resulting from, or calculated to facilitate or encourage corruption in the public service, but he shall not undertake any investigation into specific charges of corruption against individuals. (3) Where in the course of an investigation it appears to the Ombudsman that there is evidence of any corrupt act by any public officer or by any person in connection with the public service. he shall report the matter to the appropriate authority with his recommendation as to any further investigation he may consider proper. (4) The Ombudsman shall not investigate— (a) any action in respect of which the complainant has or had— (i) a remedy by way of proceedings in a court; or (ii) a right of appeal reference or review to or before an independent and impartial tribunal other than a court; or (b) any such action, or action taken with respect to any matter, as is described in the Third Schedule. (5) Notwithstanding subsection (4) the Ombudsman— (a) may investigate a matter notwithstanding that the complainant has or had a remedy by way of proceedings n a court, if satisfied that in the particular circumstances it is not reasonable to expect him to take or to have taken such proceedings; (b) is not in any case precluded from investigating any matter by reason only that it is open to the complainant to apply to the High Court for redress under section 14 (which relates to redress for contravention of the provisions for the protection of fundamental rights). Art 38A only allows refusals to be appealed, but Constitution Art 93(2)(a) allows for complaints on any matter of administrative injustice. However, I docked them because it is not clear whether the Ombudsman can order individual remedies in such cases, and also because 93(3) is not clear as to whether the Ombudsman's general powers of investigation apply to the legislature. Also, Art 94 prohibits the ombudsman from investigating policies of ministers - restricting their ambit to specific decisions.
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 The Ombudsman Act, available at www.ombudsman.gov.tt , spells out relatively clear procedure, but no mention of timelines.
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 NO Not mentioned in the Act or the Constitution.
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 - the Ombudsman cannot impose structural solutions, and there's no indication that structural solutions are part of their office's purview.


Sanctions & Proteccions

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 Partially 42. (2) A person who willfully destroys or damages a re cord or document required to be maintained and pres erved under subsection (1), commits an offence and is lia ble on summary conviction to a fine of five thousan d dollars and imprisonment for six months. (3) A person who knowingly destroys or damages a re cord or document which is required to be maintained and preserved under subsection (1) while a request for access to the record or document is pending com mits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars and imprisonment for two years. 42(2) and (3) penalize destruction of docs.
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 YES 38. (1) Where access to a document has been given i n accordance with the requirements of this Act or i n good faith, in the belief that it was required to b e given in accordance with this Act, unless malice is proved - (a) no action for defamation, breach of confidence or infringement of copyright may be brought against the public authority or against the responsible Ministe r, or an officer or employee of the public authorit y as a result of the giving of access; (b) no action for defamation or breach of confidenc e may be brought, in respect of any publication inv olved in the giving of access by the public authority, again st - (I) any person who was the author of the document; or (II) any person as a result of that person having s upplied the document or the information contained i n it to the public authority; (d) no person shall be guilty of an offence by reas on only of having authorised, or having been involv ed in the giving of the access. (2) The giving of access to a document, including a n exempt document, in consequence of a request shal l not be taken for the purposes of the law relating to de famation, breach of confidence or copyright, to con stitute an authorisation or approval of the publication of the document or its contents by the person to whom acc ess is given. (3) Nothing in this Act affects any privilege, whet her qualified or absolute, which may attach at comm on law to the publishing of a statement.
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 NO No mentioned


Promotional measures

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 Partially 7. "(1) a PUBLIC AUTHORITY SHALL, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE minister - (a) cause to be published in the Gazette and in a d aily newspaper circulating in Trinidad and Tobago a s soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act -(...) (VI) a statement specifying the officer responsible within each public authority for the initial recei pt of, and action upon, notices under section 10, requests for access to documents under section 13 and applicati ons under section 36;(...)" 7(1)(a)(vi) requires that the responsibility be delegated to someone, but this isn't necessarily a dedicated officer.
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 Partially The Minister is given some overall power.
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 YES 7. (1) a PUBLIC AUTHORITY SHALL, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE minister - (a) cause to be published in the Gazette and in a d aily newspaper circulating in Trinidad and Tobago a s soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act - (I) a statement setting out the particulars of the organisation and functions of the public authority, indicating, as far as practicable, the decision-making powers a nd other powers affecting members of the public tha t are involved in those functions and particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, members of the public in relatio n to the formulation of policy in, or the administr ation of, the public authority; (II) a statement of the categories of documents tha t are maintained in the possession of the public au thority; (III) a statement of the material that has been pre pared by the public authority under this Part for p ublication or inspection by members of the public, and the places at which as person may inspect or obtain that mate rial; (IV) a statement listing the literature available b y way of subscription services; (V) a statement of the procedure to be followed by a person when a request for access to a document is made to a public authority; (VI) a statement specifying the officer responsible within each public authority for the initial recei pt of, and action upon, notices under section 10, requests for access to documents under section 13 and applicati ons under section 36; (VII) a statement listing all boards, councils, com mittees and other bodies constituted by two or more persons, that are part of, or that have been established for the purpose of advising, the public authority, and whose meetings are open to the public, or the minutes of whose meetings are available for public inspection; (VIII) if the public authority maintains a library or reading room that is available for public use, a statement of that fact including details of the address and hour s of opening of the library or reading room; and (b) during the year commencing on 1 st January next following the publication, in respect of a public authority, of the statements under paragraph (a) that are the statements first published under that paragraph, an d during each succeeding year, cause to be published in the Gazette and in a daily newspaper circulating in Tri nidad and Tobago statements bringing up to date the infor mation contained in the previous statements. (2) Nothing in this section requires the publicatio n of exempt information. (3) Where a public authority is created on or after the commencement of this Act, the public authority shall comply with subsection (1), as soon as practicable after its creation. (4) Where a statement has not been published in acc ordance with subsection (1), the Minister shall pro mptly give reasons, to be published in the Gazette, for t he failure to publish. 8. (1) This section applies to documents that are p rovided by a public authority for the use or guidan ce of the public authority or its officers - (a) in making decisions or recommendations, or in p roviding advice to persons outside the public autho rity, with respect to rights, privileges, benefits, oblig ations, penalties or other detriments, being - (I) documents containing interpretations or particu lars of written laws or schemes administered by the public authority, not being particulars contained in anoth er written law; or (II) manuals, rules or procedure, statements of pol icy, records of decisions, letters of advice to per sons outside the public authority, or similar documents containing rules, policies, guidelines, practices o r precedents; and (b) in enforcing written laws or schemes administer ed by the public authority where a member of the pu blic might be directly affected by that enforcement, bei ng documents containing information on the procedur es to be employed or the objectives to be pursued in the enforcement of, the written laws or schemes. 7(1) publication requirements generally cover this.
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 Partially 7. "(1) a PUBLIC AUTHORITY SHALL, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE minister - (a) cause to be published in the Gazette and in a d aily newspaper circulating in Trinidad and Tobago a s soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act -(...) (II) a statement of the categories of documents tha t are maintained in the possession of the public au thority; (...)" 7(1)(a)(ii) requires authorities to catalogue the categories of documents maintained.
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 40. (2) Each responsible Minister shall, in relation to the public authorities within his portfolio, furni sh to the Minister such information as he requires for the pu rposes of the preparation of any report under this section and shall comply with any prescribed requirements c oncerning the furnishing of that information and th e keeping of records for the purposes of this section. 40(2) obligates other authorities to cooperate with the minister in preparing the annual report.
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 40. (1) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each year, prepare a report on the operation of this Act during that year and cause a copy of th e report to be laid before each House of the Parlia ment.