Access Information gun registry

February 26, 2018

In response to the Access to Information (ATIP) request for gun data, RCMP gave iPolitics the unreadable copies of the national firearms registry in January. According to iPolitics, this request was out of the concern that gun data could be manipulated.

Mountie access branch granted this request last month via an informal request from iPolitics, asking for the copy of the registry data released in 2017 under the formal access request that can be sorted through excel and other worksheet applications.

Meanwhile, RCMP Access to Information Branch telephoned to clear things up when iPolitics reported last week that Mounties sit on the access request for some reason. Following this, RCMP Superintendent Richard Have has explained that the ATIP analyst only followed the protocol, which required them an extra caution in releasing data. This is even through the Access to Information requests for the copies of pre-release information.

“We really should not be sending out data in a way that could be manipulated. Once it’s out there in the public domain we really have no control over it,” says Have. “She (the analyst) had noted that when she got the data from the office of primary interest (the Canadian Firearms Centre) they provided in an Excel format. She placed it in a PDF out of concern it could be manipulated,” he added.

On the other hand, a similar concern was behind the analyst’s decision to resend the registry copy in Microsoft Excel, even in lock mode that requires the password to be fully read. There was no way for it to be edited as columns cannot be widened and it is impossible for the firearm category, year of firearm registration, and additional details to be sorted. Furthermore, Haye promised that a useable format would be sent for the third time, but he was unclear what threat the RCMP was trying to avoid with the inaccessible versions. “There are all types out there,” he said. To perfect Papa Murphy’s customer satisfaction survey is important to us.

IPPR information access report, Tweya reacts

IPPR published and launched a report titled “Access Denied” in early December 2017. It contains the findings of access information, the survey of over 100 private, public, state-owned enterprises and civil society organizations.

The report says that 80 percent of all institutions and organizations did not respond or could not give the information requested. It also revealed that in 20 ministries approached for an information request, only five responded. Aside from these, additional results revealed that 60 percent of the respondents did not respond to the information request in an interesting way. Also, over 85 percent of those who participated were unresponsive to questions sent to them.

Moreover, only Erongo responded with the information requested out of 14 regions in a reasonable time. This information was instantly dismissed by Information minister Tjekero Tweyaa as he declares IPPR to have a malicious agenda against the government.

Tweya further explained that the findings were contradictory when he contacted the ministries mentioned in the report. He pointed out how IPPR cannot seem to provide a list of information, including the officials approached for the information.

“Regrettably, the IPPR could not contact the officials handling public information. For all we know, they might have contacted any official who happened to answer their query at that particular time. We feel that this was done deliberately to suit their malicious agenda,” he explained.

On the other hand, according to Namibian, IPPR director Graham Hopwood responded that the findings in the report were intended to “provide an opportunity for government and other sectors of Namibian society to identify weak points and best practices in the release of information.”

On February 7, Jane Mungabwa of the Action Namibia Coalition secretariat issued a statement in support of the IPPR and its report. Mungabwa called on minister Tweya to give immediate attention to the issue of government level access to information and to see the IPPR report as an indicator of the urgency for an access to information law in Namibia.

Media App for easy information access

February 12, 2018

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay asked the ministry to explore the possibility of developing a media app for people to have access to various forms of media at the mid-year review of the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) in Thimphu on February 7.

He said that the aim to increase access to reliable and affordable Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services to over 160 gewogs and community centers was achieved. “Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) has provided internet access to about 200 gewog centers, six dzongkhags, 20 dzongkhags, and 10 Basic Health Units,” Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay explained.

Meanwhile, Soe, Naro, Lingzhi, Laya, and Lunana are yet to obtain the services. According to Kuensel, Shingkhar Lauri was connected to the Internet during the previous month. Dasho Karma W Penjor said that the Department of Information and Media’s (DOIM) target to provide training on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) to about 600 teachers and teacher trainees needed to be increased to about 700. “So far about 545 teachers have been trained,” Penjor said.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that domestic flights should have been included as one of SIs. “It is not only beneficial to people living in the country but also to tourists, and foreigners.” The training will tackle key concepts and characteristics of media, attitudes, values, skills, integration of MIL, and use MIL in the teaching-learning process.

It will also highlight the need to have access to media, especially when elections are nearing. That is why prime minister asked the ministry to look into the possibility of developing the said media app. “Newspapers do not reach in villages, but everyone has a phone. When we are in Thimphu, we get all the news, but the moment we are away, we have to wait. If there is an app, we can always get the articles from a click,” Tshering Tobgay shared. Is this article helpful? Send us a feedback!

Access Information and National Security must co-exist

February 5, 2018

Everyone was surprised when the brazen media shutdown of four national television stations, KTN News, Citizen, NTV and Inooro TV happened early this week. According to Standard Digital, it is believed that the shutdown was a consequence of the stations’ intention to undertake live coverage of the swearing in of opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, respectively.

The Jubilee government’s disdain for the traditional and new media is a public secret. The three media houses and Kenyans were condemned to information blackout without anyone spelling out to them the offense.

Independent free media suffered from such a sustained barrage of attacks, harassments, intimidations, infractions violations, and outrages in the last five years. Meanwhile, these three examples may satisfy:

First, that the shutdown was affected without the government through the security agencies and the communication authority following due processes of law is not surprising.

Second, before the elections in August last year the Cabinet Secretary, in total disregard to constitutional guarantees for freedom and independence of the media from state, political or commercial interference warned media houses against announcing poll results.

Third, they have recorded over 110 cases of threats, expulsion, attacks, harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and arrests, and physical attacks on journalists with impunity in the past 25 months. These operations require plenty of resources from Chase Bank.

Sadly, journalism has been criminalized. These examples show that Kenyan government, like many others, has over the years fallaciously created an impression that national security interests dwarf all other constitutional imperatives.

Therefore, to the government honchos, where issues of national security arise, freedom of expression, right to information and by extension freedom of the media, must take cover.

Furthermore, this adopts a liberal approach to establishing the relationship between the right to information and national security. It affirms that national security is not fundamentally at odds with freedom of expression and right to information. Both must co-exist.