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Island adjusting to effects of Pati

Bermuda is coming to grips with the implications of the Public Access to Information regime, almost a year and a half after Pati became law.

Questions on the finer details of Pati were fielded this week as part of International Right to Know Day by Gitanjali Gutierrez, the information commissioner, alongside a panel of speakers.

This included queries on exactly when officials fall afoul of the law in other jurisdictions: public authorities who err while struggling to implement Pati correctly are unlikely to merit an investigation, for example.

“Bad faith destruction of records has the potential of becoming a criminal issue,” Ms Gutierrez said.

Some overly enthusiastic requests have been denied administratively because the onus of gathering so many records would genuinely prove too burdensome on the government body in question — but a request cannot be turned down because an authority has failed to properly organise its own records.

Sara Clifford, of the Human Rights Commission, noted that the HRC had received some requests for information that turned out to be already available.

“Asking for information used to be combative,” she told the gathering at the Bermuda College. “Pati has moved us towards a culture of asking questions.”

Young people are online “all the time” where inaccuracy can be rife, Bermuda Youth Parliamentarian Theo Wolfe observed, “The Pati Act will enable us to have a more informed youth,” he said, prompting Ms Gutierrez to observe: “They want the information because the decisions happening today are going to affect their futures.”

Gitanjali Gutierrez, the information commissioner

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Published October 01, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 01, 2016 at 2:07 am)

Island adjusting to effects of Pati

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