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Sunday 21 July 2019
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Southern lawyers: FOIA proposals retrograde

ATTORNEY Michael Rooplal has said the proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are a retrograde step and must be rejected.

He said in this digital age there can be no justification for the proposed time extension for accessing information.

Rooplal, president of the Assembly of Southern Lawyers, is another dissenting voice on the proposed FOIA amendments to extend the time from the request of information to access to an official document, as well as the role of the Attorney General as the final arbiter.

“It is my view that the proposed amendments undermine the the very object of the act, to make available to the public information about the operations of public authorities and, in particular, ensuring that the authorisations, policies, rules and practices affecting members of the public in their dealings with public authorities are readily available to persons affected by those authorizations, policies, rules and practices.

He said in any democratic society that respects the rule of law, the availability of information to the public and its timely release are inextricably linked.

“Moreover, we live in a digital age where the manner in which information can now be stored and retrieved allows for far greater ease of access to information.

“There can therefore be no justification for extending the time for determining a request for information.”

“The FOIA is a vital cog in the public’s right to know and right to participate in the administration of our democratic society.

“Any derogation of these rights should be strongly guarded against, particularly in the present circumstances where there has been absolutely no consultation with the public on this issue,” Rooplal said.

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