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BAHAMAS: FOIA provides for autonomous Information Commissioner/Freedom of Information Unit

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#Bahamas, April 25, 2018 – Nassau – The Bahamas’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 2017, provides for the appointment of an Information Commissioner whose independence and sterling character will be crucial to the working of the regime, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said Monday (April 23, 2018).

Prime Minister Minnis made the announcement while addressing the Opening Session of a Workshop on the Freedom of Information Act, 2017, hosted by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs at the Paul H. Farquharson Conference Centre, Police Headquarters.

The Information Commissioner will be appointed by the Governor General pursuant to Section 30 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2017, and upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

“It is crucial to note that the Information Commissioner will have the overall responsibility for the Freedom of Information regime,” Prime Minister Minnis said.  “The Commissioner will be required to monitor public authorities to ensure that they are complying with the Act.”

Prime Minister Minnis said the Information Commissioner will establish a Freedom of Information Unit with its own staff and which will include one or more Deputy Information Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners.

“The Information Commissioner will enjoy independence and autonomy in operating and administering the Freedom of Information Unit,” Prime Minister Minnis added.

In order to further ensure the Information Commissioner’s independence, the Act provides that the Commissioner will be a ‘corporation sole’ and that he or she must be a fit and proper person, appropriately qualified for appointment; be independent, impartial and accountable; and have demonstrable knowledge in access to information or public and corporate governance.

“If an individual, group or entity is not satisfied with a decision of a public authority, the Act provides for various levels of appeal up to the Supreme Court,” Prime Minister Minnis said.

Prime Minister Minnis said to properly implement the Freedom of Information regime, each public authority to which the Act relates, must have Information Managers to facilitate the requests for records and the granting of access to records.  The Information Managers will be required to undergo special training.

“Each public authority, in consultation with the Information Commissioner, must ensure that training is provided for its officials regarding the right to information and the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act as provided in Section 51,” Prime Minister Minnis added.

Monday’s workshop was facilitated by Mr. Damian Cox, Chief Technical Director, Office the Prime Minister, Jamaica, Access to Information Unit, and Mr. Shane Miller, Assistant Director of Legal Affairs, The Bahamas.   Mr. Cox was involved in the implementation of Jamaica’s Access to Information Act, which is the equivalent to The Bahamas’ Freedom of Information Act.

The workshop included an Outline/Overview of the Bahamas FOIA, facilitated by Assistant Director Miller and also focused on Critical Components of Successful Freedom of Information Implementation and Jamaica’s Access to Information Experience – Challenges, Successes and Opportunities, both facilitated by Chief Technical Officer Cox.

It was attended by Members of the Cabinet of The Bahamas, the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Parliamentary Secretaries, the Vice-President of the Senate, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Members of the Senate and House of Assembly, Secretary to the Cabinet, Financial Secretary, Senior Law Enforcement officials, Permanent Secretaries and other Senior Government Officials.

Meaningful and productive workshops with the public sector and civil society groups are scheduled to be held over the next several days.

 

By: Matt Maura (BIS)

Photo Caption: Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis, left, and Damian Cox, Chief Technical Director, Office the Prime Minister, Jamaica, Access to Information Unit — review details at the opening of a Workshop on the Freedom of Information Act, 2017, hosted by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, at Paul H. Farquharson Conference Centre, Police Headquarters on Monday.

 

(BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)

 

 

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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 

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#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force congratulates Commodore Retired Leon Livingstone Smith, who was a recipient of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021. 

During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.

Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.

Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.

 

Header:  Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)

 

(For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 

-rbdf- 

#GuardOurHeritage 

#MarlinSpike 

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