Jamaica's Access to Information Act was passed in 2002 and came into effect in 2004. The Act grants all members of the public the right to obtain access to official documents held by public authorities unless the information is exempt from disclosure under limited categories provided by the Act. The right of access to information is an internationally recognised human right. Having the right of access to information promotes accountability, transparency and public participation in national decision making. Since 2005, JET has used the Access to Information Act to obtain a wide range of information relating to the environment, including monitoring reports for major developments, and maps and reports on mining and quarrying operations. JET uses this information to hold the government accountable to its mandate to protect the environment. JET has also filed appeals to the Access to Information Tribunal where public authorities have refused to provide information. The most recent appeal was heard on August 9, 2010 and concerned the request to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for veterinary reports for captive dolphin facilities operating in Jamaica. The appeal was successful and we received the veterinary reports. For more information on how to make a request for information under the Access to Information Act see the website for the Access to Information Unit at www.ati.gov.jm.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) unlawfully denied access to information including names of experts who commented on an EFSA guidance document regarding authorization applications for pesticides. The court found the disclosure of personal data was necessary to dispel a climate of secrecy to ensure democratic participation in public decision-making.
A private, commercial entity is considered a “public authority” for the purposes of environmental information regulations if the entity does not determine in a genuinely autonomous manner the way in which it provides services.
Court of Appeal quashed certificate issued by the Attorney General attempting to override a decision by the Upper Tribunal directing release of information under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information rules.
The government of Kenya has an affirmative duty to publicly disclose a power purchase agreement with Ethiopia and information describing the possible social and environmental impacts of hydropower facilities in Ethiopia that would divert water flowing into Lake Turkana. The State must also ensure Lake Turkana is sustainably managed utilized and conserved, and exercise the necessary precautions in preventing environmental harm that may arise from any power purchase agreements with Ethiopia.