Justice Charles Ramson sworn-in as first Commissioner of Information

Georgetown, GINA, July 15, 2013

Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Justice Charles Ramson took the oath before President Donald Ramotar today as Commissioner of Information, a position he described as a “clearing house for all information requested for by members of the public.”

Justice Charles Ramson taking the oath as Commissioner of Information before President Donald Ramotar

The appointment of a Commissioner of Information is catered for under the Access to Information Act of 2011.

 

Any member of the public can request information, however such information must relate to public institutions such as government owned company, agency or statutory bodies. Additionally, its availability hinges on the classification under which it falls.

President Donald Ramotar congratulates Justice Charles Ramson upon handing him his certificate as Commissioner of Information

“You have top secret, you have confidential, you have general information,” the Commissioner of Information said in an interview with members of the media subsequent to the swearing-in.

Justice Ramson explained that any member of the public also includes those who are “domiciled” in Guyana.

 

“It’s not a question of Guyanese alone… one has to recognise that the act becomes operational and the information becomes part of the public domain only from the moment the Act was made operational by the President,” Justice Ramson said.

New Commissioner of Information Justice Charles Ramson shares a photo op with President Donald Ramotar

The position as Commissioner of Information is regarded by Justice Ramson as unprecedented in Guyana.

The Act was passed in September of 2011 in after in-depth examination at the level of the special select committee of the National Assembly.

In accordance with Article 146 of the Constitution and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the act seeks to set out a practical regime of right to information for persons to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of the government and public authorities.

 

A section of the legislation that was made an act enables members of the public to correct inaccurate personal information and protection of the media, with regard to source confidentiality issues.

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