Implementation of the Access to Information Act (SYC0002)
Action Plan: Seychelles Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Information Commission
Support Institution(s): Office of Vice President Department of Information Information Commission Department of Information Communication Technology Department of Education Department of Legal Affairs Civil society platforms (CEPS) Individual CSOs Community Groups OGP
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Marginalized Communities, Right to Information
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Following the enactment of the Access to Information Act, 2018, public authorities and their respective officials are finding it hard to implement the new law, thus they are unable to provide the public with the information they need effectively. The public bodies are still unsure how to go about the process when addressing a request by the public and the public does not understand its right in relation to access to information and what is and what is not permissible under this new Act. The delay in establishing the Information Commission, as required by the Act, also caused a setback in the implementation of the new law as the Department of Information, under the Office of the Vice-President had to step in to assist public bodies, albeit, itself having to navigate in an unknown territory. There are also delays in setting up an ATI web page for proactive disclosure, and the poor management of information and records is constantly causing numerous problems when the public request information or their files. Civil society organisations are not equipped to better assist citizens in exercising their rights with regards accessibility to information. At present, citizens are not fully sensitized on the Access to Information Act, and how to go about acquiring the information/records they need.
What is the commitment?
Public authorities and their respective officials will have to be trained and be sensitised to the principles and processes of the ATI Act. This includes ensuring the autonomy of appointed Information Officers. Citizens will also have to be sensitised on their rights vis à vis their constitutional right to access public information, about the ATI Act itself, and, how it can benefit them. Information Commissioners would also have to be trained on what is required of the Information Commission in its early stage; the role of the Commission and Information Officers; the sensitisation and education role of the Commission; the handling of appeal cases that are referred to the Commission and the monitoring and evaluation report writing of the Commission. Government will have to appraise the current situation and status of public records in all their entities, and also carry out an assessment as to what type of management information systems and data capture procedures and mechanisms exists, to enable ATI to take place. Government will also have to develop a simple but coherent legislative framework for management and accessing of Government information within the spectrum of digital government, through staged reforms (commencing with legislation regulating archives), supported by efficient and effective policies and practices.
Civil society organisations will have to be trained and equipped to actively sensitize and educate the citizens/society. Sensitization campaigns for citizens, starting in schools and all educational establishments up to the elderly and persons with disabilities need to know this constitutional right and how to exercise it.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
The commitment will provide the public authorities, the Information Officers with the right tools/materials to assist public request for information. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity for citizens and civil society organisations to collaborate with Government officials to address irregularities concerning the dispensation of information. The Information Commission would also be in a better position to know how to operate as a Commission and understand its role towards public entities, Information Officers and the public. A well-educated and sensitised society through accessible records and management information systems established through policies and legislation, strengthened and equipped CEPS secretariat and other civil society platforms to facilitate the process, will make access to information transparent, effective and timely.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment is relevant to access to information and civic participation because it will promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. A record management system and simplified version of the Act will be created to make public information available to citizens, as well as improve the quality of information led by Government offices, ensuring that accountability is institutionalised and good governance takes place.
The commitments in the NAP are in line with Seychelles’ Vision 2033 and the first National Development Strategy (NDS). Implementation of the Commitment will be monitored by the RBM Committee.
Public Participation in the Budget
SYC0001, 2019, Capacity Building
Implementation of the Access to Information Act
SYC0002, 2019, Access to Information
Implementation of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI)
SYC0003, 2019, Anti-Corruption
SYC0004, 2019, E-Government