Openness, access to government information and Caribbean governance


  • Fay Durrant



As governments worldwide move towards openness and transparency, the development of legislation to facilitate access to information is an essential requirement for modernization of the public sector and for effective governance. Access to information legislation is one way to ensure integrity in public life. Over 68 countries have approved national legislation and many are actively involved in the implementation of these laws. Globally the move to openness is supported by statements aimed at ensuring universal and equitable access to information as a basic human right. Factors influencing the approval of this legislation have included internal and external pressures from civil society, local and international press associations, and regional and international organizations. These laws mainly have an overall objective of mitigating corruption and provide the general public with the ability to request documents and other materials held by all government agencies and other agencies receiving public funds. The exemptions identified under the laws are usually based on ensuring national security. In the English–speaking Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago have passed access legislation and several countries including the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and Guyana are discussing their own draft legislation. This paper assesses the main elements and current status of the legislation from global surveys including that done by Banisar in 2004, and will examine in detail the progress in implementing the access legislation in the Caribbean. The research will examine the context of access legislation, complementary legislation, information infrastructure, administrative procedures, and the impact of new technologies on access to information services.




How to Cite

Durrant, F. (2006). Openness, access to government information and Caribbean governance. First Monday, 11(7).