Created: 09/02/2021 07:52 AM

The Vixen shipwreck (Photo by Andrew Stevenson)

Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has asked the public authorities to “familiarize themselves” with the Public Access to Information Act and to consult a code of conduct when dealing with requests for documents.

The commissioner issued the reminder after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources failed to get a senior official to review one of its decisions as required by law.

Ms. Gutierrez said in a recent decision that an applicant made a request for historical wreckage records in February 2021 and the department responded within the legal six-week deadline.

But the head of the agency – in this case Interior Minister Rozy Azhar – did not issue a decision after the dissatisfied applicant asked the ministry for an internal review at the end of April.

Ms. Gutierrez wrote that the Permanent Secretary should have responded by June 9th, as the law gives authorities a maximum of six weeks to respond with a review decision and reasoning.

She said the department wrote to the applicant on May 14, “in an effort to help and meet the requirements of the Pati Act,” but this could not be considered an internal review decision as it was not issued by Ms. Azhar has been.

Ms. Gutierrez added that in its review, the department “stated that the complainant’s internal review request was never made because he did not know that the permanent secretary of the Home Office was his head of agency under the Pati Act”. for the information of the head of the authority. “

She said she accepted the department’s statement and acted in good faith, and noted that a proper internal review decision had since been issued.

“However, the Information Commissioner would like to take this opportunity to remind the authorities to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Pati Act and to consult the Minister’s Pati Code of Practice when dealing with Pati inquiries,” she wrote.

“The Information Commissioner commends the department for their responsiveness and cooperation in complying with the Pati Act.”

* To read the ICO decision and its press release in full, click on the PDFs under Related Media.