The Information Commission celebrates Universal Access to Information day
On the occasion of International Universal Access to Information Day 2019 today, the Information Commission hosted a brief ceremony at the International Conference Centre of Seychelles yesterday afternoon, in which Vice-President Vincent Meriton highlighted the milestones in terms of access to information in Seychelles.
The ceremony commenced with a brief introduction of the Information Commission by chief information commissioner John Richardson who introduced Antonio Lucas and Desire Payet as commissioners and Thereza Dogley as the chief executive.
Mr Richardson noted that the commissioners were appointed in April and that they expect new staff to be joining the commission next month.
“Our role is basically a regulatory and advisory function. You as information officers have the important task of both supplying the public with information and publishing most of your organisation’s records on your websites” Mr Richardson stated.
Mr Richardson noted that there will be training sessions conducted by a visiting professor from Canada for information officer and the commission towards the end of October or early November and that they expect to have specialist staff to do information audits on every public body and to investigate complaints.
“We are taking complaints seriously and currently have two under active review. There are penalties for supplying incorrect or misleading information, or refusing requests” Mr Richardson further spoke.
Vice-President Meriton, who has among his portfolios the department of information, also addressed all present detailing the conception of the Access to Information Act (2018) towards transparency, accountability and good governance.
“I believe I can safely say now that the commission is in place and staff recruited and the full implementation of all aspects of the Seychelles Access to information legislation is impending. This has come about thanks to the determination of government to make it happen as well as this worldwide collaboration which Seychelles has now become part of, for sharing ideas, strategies and success stories” VP Meriton stated.
VP Meriton continued to state that a lot of work has been done since the law was enacted in July 2018 including education sessions, familiarisation workshops, meetings, the selection of information officers and setting up of structures within public bodies to support the Act.
He also noted that the commission has a lot of work ahead, including revisiting and streamlining the list of information officers, finalising the office address and contact details amongst others.
VP Meriton also joined chief executive Dogley in launching the commission’s website www.infocom.sc
Assistant secretary general for Seychelles National Commission for Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Vicky Gendron also read a message from the director general of Unesco Audrey Azoulay emphasising the importance of access to information to “empower citizens, facilitate fair debate and give equal opportunities for all”.
The message also touched on this year’s theme ‘Leaving no one behind!’ noting that digital technologies are leading to new forms of inequality urging member states to adopt and improve legislation for public access to information, to protect human rights and drive sustainable development.
The ceremony concluded with a brief presentation by CEO Dogley about the role of the commission and future actions.