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Tonga National Right to Information Bill

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10 April 2014 In 2010, the Government approved a Freedom of Information (FOI) Policy for Tonga. The policy commits the Government to releasing information both voluntarily, and at the request of any member of the public, about its policies, programs and activities. Certain categories of information, such as personal information, information related to national security, and commercial information that would reveal trade secrets, are exempt from disclosure in recognition of the harm that their release could cause to either the state, a business or a person. However, some exempt categories of information are nonetheless still subject to a public interest test that balances the harm from disclosure against the benefit through non-disclosure against the benefit to the public in disclosure.

In support of the Policy, systems and structures, such as the FOI Unit and the Cabinet Steering Committee, were established to manage a phased process of implementation, which has now been underway for two (2) years. Implementation activities have included the development of public education and awareness materials, training manuals and toolkits for public authorities, the conduct of training and sensitization sessions, and the preparation of budgets. The government has been faced with quite a few challenges along the way, but continues, through the Steering Committee and the Unit, to work on resolving those issues in the best way possible.

Having established an administrative framework for the exercise of the right to information, the Government will now move forward to develop a Freedom of Information Law which will give to the people of Tonga a legally enforceable right to have access to government information. This is in keeping with an on-going commitment to encourage a more open, transparent and accountable government following the political reforms of 2010. As such, a technical legal advisor, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has, since April 7, 2014, been in-country for one week conducting a series of meetings and consultations with key FOI stakeholders. This is with a view to inform the development of a working draft FOI Law for public consultation. The consultations have been conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry under which the FOI Unit falls.

The consultant has also been providing technical support and assistance to both the FOI Unit and the Steering Committee in their implementation activities.

For further information, please direct all enquiries to:
Ministry of Information & Communications
Level 2, O.G Sanft Building
P.O.Box 1380, Nuku’alofa, Tonga
Tel : +676 28170 / +676 24862 | Fax : +676 24861 |Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Issued by the  : Ministry of Information & Communications

Last Updated ( Friday, 11 April 2014 12:29 )  

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