The United States Congress enacted a Freedom of Information Act which provides for the accessability of its citizens to public records and any government information not sealed by the court. This allows ordinary people to request information bu merely quoting the law.

The United Kingdom Parliament enacted its own Freedom of Information Act on November 30, 2000, but this Act did not come into force until January, 2005. The object and reasoning of the UK bill is similar to those of the United States. Simply to allow citizens access to government information.

The Inter-American Press Association, recognising the importance of people in the Americas being able to access government information, and the hardship they experience to do so, has formulated the principles of the Treaty of Chapultepec, and invited Latin American and Caribbean governments to sign it.

Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has signed on behalf of St. Kitts and Nevis.

This treaty mandates the government to allow accredited journalists access to government information in a timely manner.

The Prime Minister’s press conference of January 26 came the closest we have seen in the Federation, of openness. Dr. Douglas presented useful information, and answered questions calmly. He was at ease, relaxed.

Somehow we wonder if the Prime Minister tells staff and handlers how he expects his government should deal with the Press. Too often telephone calls go unanswered, senior civil servants and ministers are so inaccessible to discuss government business that you wonder if they forget that the Press is there to help them get their words out.

In all, the right of the people to know what their government is doing is an unassailable right. We hope that the PM continues on this path and that there will be a steady flow of information to the public. It is their right to know.

Reprinted from January 2005