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Government has received 62 Pati requests

Right to know: Gitanjali Gutierrez(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Bermuda Government has received 62 public access to information requests and police have received 31 during the first six months of the law coming into force.

Michael Dunkley revealed the figure for those entities directly controlled by the Government, saying the 62 requests were made to 28 public authorities. He did not reveal which ones.

“It is clear from the numbers that some public authorities have received multiple requests while others have not yet had any,” said the Premier in a statement to mark Monday’s International Right to Know Day 2015.

“Public Access to Information, or Pati, was enacted on April 1, 2015. We are now closing in on six months since that date and I am delighted that Bermudians and residents of Bermuda have taken advantage of their new-found right to request and receive records.

“Pati promotes openness and transparency and public authorities are working to ensure that the records and information they keep are made available to the public as a matter of course. Some records may be subject to one of the exemptions listed in the Act and thus cannot be released.”

He said precise numbers on requests made to all 222 public authorities which fall under the Act would be included in the information commissioner’s annual report.

“As the country’s leader, I am proud that Bermuda has embraced Pati,” said Mr Dunkley. “We have listened, we have heeded the demand to make Pati a reality and we continue to make amendments, as you will see during the upcoming parliamentary session, that are designed to make Pati operate even more efficiently in Bermuda.”

He said this week’s activities to mark Right to Know Day provided a “meaningful platform to allow Bermudians and Bermuda residents to understand how they too can play a role in raising the level of accountability of this Government”.

Police commissioner Michael DeSilva said Bermuda Police Service had received 31 Pati requests so far, with 16 from members of the public, 13 from current or former staff and two from journalists.

Information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has received six appeals after Pati requests have been denied. Two were deemed to be premature and therefore invalid, one appeal was resolved and three are pending.

Ms Gutierrez has been holding public sessions on Pati this week. The final one will take place this evening at Dalton E Tucker Primary School in Southampton at 7pm.

She will also do a live online question and answer session with this newspaper at 10am tomorrow, when readers are invited to quiz her on Pati and transparency.

If you have a question about Pati, email it to sstrangeways@royalgazette.com today and Ms Gutierrez will answer it tomorrow.