Aug 16, 2017 Last Updated 9:13 AM, Aug 11, 2017

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Access to Information

If you are unhappy with a decision made by a Public Authority on your ATI request, you are entitled to ask for an internal review by that Public Authority within 60 days of being advised of the Public Authority's determination.

You may do this if:

  • You have been refused access to a document;
  • You have been refused access to part of a document;
  • You have been refused a request to amend a personal document;
  • You have not been notified of a decision for grant of access
  • You have been given access to a document but access has been deferred;
  • You are a third party specified in the documents but have not been consulted about giving access to another person; or
  • You have been consulted, but disagree with a decision to release the documents
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The first thing you need to do is decide which Public Authority you are going to send your request to. If you are not certain about which Public Authority has the information you are seeking you should call the ATI Unit or visit their website. Information on the various Public Authorities and their subject matters are available in a publication entitled Guidelines on the discharge of functions by Public Authorities under the Access to Information (Jamaica) Act 2002

Once you have narrowed down the possibilities, you might want to call the ATI Desk of those Public Authorities for more specific information. The ATI telephone numbers for MOFP are 932 5077 -8. Email ati@mof.gov.jm

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Your request must "reasonably describe" the records you are seeking. This means the description must be specific enough that a government employee familiar with the Public Authority's files will be able to locate the records within a reasonable amount of time and without an unreasonable amount of effort.

You don't have to explain why you want the information you are seeking - but this explanation might be necessary if you want the Public Authority to waive its fees or comply more fully with your request.

The more precise and accurate your request, the more likely you are to get a prompt and complete response

Make Requests For Personal Files As Specific As Possible

Be sure to include :

  • Your date and place of birth
  • NIS number or other identifier
  • Any previous names or nicknames
  • Any previous addresses
  • It can also be helpful to mention the nature of your relationship with the agency (former employee, participant in an agency program, etc.) Include the dates of your involvement.
  • You may want to state where you lived and/or were active - some files will only be available from an agency's field office. In this case, you should ask the agency to check the relevant field

NB Keep Records Of Your Verbal And Written Correspondence

Be sure to keep a copy of all correspondence to and from the Public Authority. You'll need it if you write an appeal or go to court later.

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Format/Type Cost ($J)    Quantity/Measurement
Audio Cassettes 350.00 Per Cassettes
Compact Disc 300.00 Per Disc
Computer Print Out 10.00 Per Page
Diskettes 150.00 Per Diskette
Microfilm Duplication      1500.00 Per roll(of 35 mm microfilm minimum order @ cost of $150)
Microfilm Print Out 20.00 Per Page
Paper to Braille 60.00 Per Single pager/$70.00 per duplex
Photocopy 10.00 Per Page
Video Cassettes 400.00 Per Cassettes
Photographs 400.00 5" x 7"
Photographs 500.00 6" x 10"
Photographs 1200.00 11" x 14"
Photographs 2000.00 16" x 30"
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If the information you request is in a written form, the Public Authority can let you know when and where you can see the document or provide you with a copy. If you have asked for access to information that is not in written form, such as video tapes, sound recordings or photographs, arrangements will be made for you to hear or view the material. 

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Unless the Public Authority shows that "exceptional circumstances" exist, and that it is actively trying to meet your request, you have the right to appeal your request to the responsible Minister or to an Appeal Tribunal established to pursue your request. 

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The ATI Act requires a Public authority to acknowledge receipt of the public's request within 10 working days from the recorded date of the request and 30 workings within which to grant, refuse or defer access the document or to extend the period to grant access to another 30 days. 

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All Public Authorities covered by the ATI legislation have a responsibility to deal with your request as soon as possible. You will be contacted if any difficulties arise. They must advise you in writing within 30 working days that the information is available, or if your request has been deferred or refused. This period may be extended by a further 30 days if special circumstances apply, such as the need to consult with a third party. 

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Yes, if you believe any information held by the Public Authority about you is incomplete, incorrect, misleading, or out-of-date, you have the right to request that it is corrected. 

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To a gain access to a Public Authority's records it

  • must already exist and have been created or obtained by a Public Authority, (ATI does not require a Public Authority to create a record just to satisfy your request)
  • must be within both the possession and the control of the Public Authority at the time you make your ATI request. A Public Authority does not have to retrieve a requested record it doesn't possess at the time your request is made.
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Ministries and public bodies that must grant you access to information under the ATI Act include:

There are nine legal categories that are exempted under the ATI Act, sections 14 -22 of the law. These are:

  • Government Ministries, departments and agencies
  • State boards and commissions
  • Local and municipal councils
  • Public hospitals
  • Regulatory bodies
  • Public enterprises (where government has over 50% stake in the company)
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Although the goal of ATI is ready access to government records, the Act clearly states specific areas of exemption as Parliament has recognized that some confidentiality is necessary for the government to function. ATI Exemptions;

There are nine legal categories that are exempted under the ATI Act, sections 14 -22 of the law. These are:

  • Documents affecting security, defense or international relations
  • Cabinet documents
  • Documents relating to law enforcement
  • Legal privilege
  • Documents affecting national economy
  • Documents revealing government's deliberative processes
  • Documents relating to business affairs etc.
  • Documents related to heritage sites etc.
  • Documents affecting personal privacy
  • If some portions of a record contains exempted information the Act requires that a Public Authority provide you with a "reasonably segregable" (easy to excerpt) portion of the record after the portions which are exempt have been deleted from it. This means a Public Authority cannot withhold an entire document just because some portions of the document are exempt.
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No. Access will be granted to official documents other than those classified as exempt documents. Exemption of an official document will not apply after a 20 years period. However the Minister may specify a shorter or longer period.

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You can ask for any kind of personal or non-personal information. Personal information must be related to you, this includes your employment records, health, welfare and superannuating records, and examination and training records. Non-personal information includes government policy documents, research materials, information about how the Ministry, agency etc. operates, what actions it has been taking, how it has been spending its money, and what statistics and other information it has collected on any subject. Citizens routinely request and receive records relating to public health, environmental hazards, consumer product safety, government spending, labor relations, business decisions, taxes, foreign policy, and the economy. 

Information requested can be in the form of reports, certificates, computer printouts, maps, films, photographs, tape recordings and video recordings.

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A Public Authority is a Ministry, Department, Executive Agency or other agency of government, a statutory body, a Parish Council, the Council of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, any government company which is wholly owned by government or any agency of the government in which the government holds more than 50% shares or any other body or organization that the Minister declares that this Act is applicable to. 

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The ATI Act is a piece of legislation that gives you the right to gain access to information held as records by Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments, and other public bodies except for those exempt documents so designated. 

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