Calling for “transparency on all negotiations that lead to deals,” the Bahamas Humane Society today added its voice to the growing list of those set to demonstrate in Rawson Square next week, demanding passage of a Freedom of Information Act.
“We are extremely grateful to the Bahamas Humane Society for extending its support to a cause outside its normal range of compassion and caring for animals. We believe that their interest is symbolic of how important people in all walks of life believe the right to transparent government is,” said Lindsey McCoy, CEO of Save The Bays, which is organizing the march set to start at 8 am Wednesday, June 11.
Churches, trade unions, business associations, concerned citizens’ groups and both the FNM and the DNA have signed on to the rally being coordinated by the fast-growing national movement that has championed the cause of the public’s right to know since its inception a little more than one year ago.
The Bahamas remains one of the last countries in the world not to have a Freedom of Information Act on its books, lagging behind the US, UK, most European countries, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Jamaica, Mexico, China and dozens of other nations.
Among the few who, like The Bahamas, do not have legislation protecting the public’s right to know or to gain information about public business are North Korea and Botswana.
“There have been battles in other countries where governments were reluctant to open their business to public view, including Nigeria where a 12-year debate raged before the government granted what the public was demanding,” said McCoy.
“We’ve had enough talk about this. The former government passed a bill but never enacted the legislation. That was withdrawn by the current government which said it wanted to amend it. The time has come to act.”
Last week, Rev. CB Moss announced Bahamas Against Crime would participate, claiming that secret deals impact the moral fibre of a nation.
“Nepotism, cronyism, favouritism, and partism undermine the moral and ethical foundation of society, and are an obstacle to national development,” he said. “The Freedom of Information Act will balance the scales between the well-connected and the disconnected in doing business with government. It will also remove the veil of secrecy which is a part of the culture of Bahamian governments. This Act must be implemented NOW.”
Today Bahamas Humane Society President Kim Aranha threw the organisation’s support behind the demonstration. “It is essential in all nations to allow private citizens access to the information on deals and commitments that their government enters into on their behalf,” Aranha said.
“Each and every Government is but custodians of the country as trustees for the entire population. Therefore it is only normal that there should be transparency on all negotiations that lead to deals. The Bahamas should be no different than the 90 countries who have already passed and implemented a similar bill.”
The demonstration will include music by popular Bahamian recording artist Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie and Ta-Da, t-shirt sales, petitions and several speakers.
Diane Phillips and Associates