ICO Decisions On Office Of Governor & DCFS

December 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Information Commissioner issued two decisions regarding the Office of the Governor and the Department of Child and Family Services [DCFS].

A spokesperson said, “Decision 14/2021 looked at an internal review decision issued by Government House denying a Public Access to Information [PATI] request for records on complaints against certain judicial officers that were filed by the Applicant with the Governor.

“While it disclosed a number of responsive records during the initial handling of the request, Government House withheld the rest of the records because it believed that disclosure would undermine its deliberative process [section 29 exemption of the PATI Act].

“Government House also denied public access to the names of the members of the Judicial and Legal Services Committee [JLSC] who considered the complaints, for the same reason. In accordance with the Judicial Complaints Protocol for Bermuda, the JLSC assisted and advised the Governor on complaints made against judicial officers.

Decision 14 2021 Summary

“The Information Commissioner has considered the exemption in section 29 in detail in Decision 14/2021. She agreed with Government House that many parts of the responsive records should continue to be withheld from the public, but highlighted that the records also contain factual information that, due to an exclusion, cannot be withheld under the exemption in section 29.

“The factual information included the names of the JLSC members and their involvement in the handling of the Applicant’s complaints. The Information Commissioner has found, however, the names of the members to be exempt personal information that is appropriately withheld under section 23.

“The Information Commissioner has ordered Government House to provide the Applicant with a copy of the redacted records, excluding the exempt information, within six weeks.

Decision 15 2021 Summary

“Decision 15/2021 considered DCFS’s failure to issue an internal review decision within the six-week statutory timeline. The Information Commissioner acknowledged DCFS’s effort to glean from the Applicant more details on what was being challenged by their request for an internal review of the substantive initial decision, which had granted access in part to the records requested.

“She clarified, however, that awaiting a requester’s response cannot pause the statutory deadline for the Head of the Public Authority to issue an internal review decision. Nor does it affect the deadline for a PATI requester to seek an independent review by the Information Commissioner when the public authority fails to issue a timely internal review decision.

“The Information Commissioner has ordered DCFS’s Head of Public Authority to complete the internal review and issue a decision to the Applicant within four weeks.”

The full version of Decision 14/2021 follows below [PDF here]

The full version of Decision 15/2021 follows below [PDF here]

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