How to: Getting access to information

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February 05, 2016

With the February 25 general election on the horizon, more persons are trying to obtain information on issues of governance as they seek to make a decision about which political candidate to vote for in the upcoming polls.

The Access to Information (ATI) Act is a tool that can be utilised by persons to obtain information from various public institutions.

The Access to Information Act gives citizens and other persons a general legal right to obtain access to an official government document, other than an exempt document, which would otherwise be inaccessible.

Here is how to use the ATI Act:

1. To make an application to a ministry or public institution, a letter, facsimile, e-mail or telephone should be made, clearly stating the documents requested.

2. If possible, all information about the document requested should be provided to the person taking your request in order to make the process easier.

3. Each application should bear all necessary information about the applicant, a contact number or email address because this will enable to ATI personnel to keep in contact easily.

4. There are some documents excluded from the ATI Act. These include, but are not limited to:

a. Information about the national economy, which could harm the economy.

b. Security, defence and international relations.

c. Information related to the Cabinet.

d. Law enforcement.

e. Legal privilege.

f. Government's deliberative processes.

g. Trade secrets

h. Personal privacy of individuals.

5. You will receive a letter to acknowledge the receipt of your request.

6. You will be informed, within 30 days of receipt of the application, whether or not the information will be disclosed and grant access, or inform you of your rights of

appeal as the case may be.

7. The grounds on which you have the right to appeal include:

a. Refusal of a grant of access.

b. The grant of access to only some of the documents requested

c. Deferral of the grant of access.

d. Refusal to amend or annotate a personal record.

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