Right to Know Week 2016 to Get Underway
Jamaica will join the global community in observing Right to Know Week September 25 to October 1. The week also encompasses Right to Know Day observed on September 28 each year.
RTK Day is commemorated in over 40 countries and by scores of non-governmental organizations globally, to raise awareness of members of the public’s right to access government information as a critical part of good governance and the advancement of democracy.
Jamaica’s celebration of Right to Know Week is being spearheaded by the Access to Information Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Mrs. Shereika Hemmings-Allison Senior Legal Officer at OPM who has oversight responsibility for the Access to Information Unit explained that the Unit has planned a slate of activities to mark the week.
“These events have been carefully conceptualized to more deeply engage the public and our stakeholders in government, private sector, media, academia and civil society around the subject of freedom of information,” Mrs. Hemmings-Allison stated, adding that the youth will also be targeted in the celebrations.
The Week itself will officially commence on Sunday September 25 with the RTK Week Church service at the Mona Baptist Church, followed by the launch of the ATI National High School Essay Competition at the Jamaica House Press Room on Tuesday September 27, she explained.
Wednesday September 28 which is celebrated as RTK Day will see members of the ATI Unit team at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre for an outreach exercise, where they will be interacting with students and other commuters, and handing out brochures and other promotional material.
On Thursday September 29, the Access to Information Unit in Association with the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), UWI will stage a public forum on the Access to Information Act. The event will look at the topic, Access to Information Act: Impact, Challenges, Opportunities.
“This forum will have a number of erudite panelists from government, media and civil society,” Mrs. Hemmings-Allison noted.
There will also be a number of media activities to highlight the week. This includes a feature on Right to Know Day in both daily newspapers.
Mrs. Hemmings-Allison explained that prior to the start of the week the ATI Unit will have a training exercise for Access Officers throughout the government service. “These are the professionals on the frontline interacting with members of the public who contact the Ministries departments and agencies with their ATI requests, and it is therefore critical that our officers are kept abreast of the Act and other related issues.