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Gutierrez backs call for pandemic transparency

Access to information is still important even in the grip of a pandemic, the Information Commissioner said yesterday.

Gitanjali Gutierrez said that the Covid-19 crisis and decisions made to fight it needed to be available to the public. She was speaking after the International Conference of Information Commissioners warned that governments must safeguard the right to access information.

The ICIC said: “The impact of coronavirus brings unprecedented challenges for our society, both nationally and globally.

“Public authorities must make significant decisions that affect public health, civil liberties and people's prosperity. The public's right to such decisions is vital.”

The statement added: “As a global community, we recognise that resources may be diverted away from usual information rights work. Public organisations will rightly focus their resources on protecting public health, and we recognise our role in taking a pragmatic approach, for example around how quickly public bodies respond to requests. But the importance of the right to access information remains.”

The ICIC statement added that public bodies must practise “clear and transparent” communication and good record keeping. The group said: “As an international network, the ICIC supports a flexible approach that takes into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency, while safeguarding the values of the right to access information.”

Unprecedented challenges: Gitanjali Gutierrez, the Information Commissioner (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published April 16, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 16, 2020 at 9:02 am)

Gutierrez backs call for pandemic transparency

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