The International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) has stressed the vital importance of access to information in the context of a global pandemic considering that the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) brings unprecedented challenges for societies nationally and globally.
In a statement issued on April 14, 2020, the ICIC emphasized that public authorities must make significant decisions that affect public health, civil liberties and people’s prosperity emphasising that the public’s right to access information about such decisions is vital.
The ICIC said it recognised that resources may be diverted away from usual information rights work as public institutions will rightly focus their resources on protecting public health, and also recognise information Commissioners’ role in taking a pragmatic approach, for example around how quickly public bodies respond to requests but stressed that the importance of the right to access information remains.
It noted that: “Public bodies must also recognise the value of clear and transparent communication, and of good record-keeping, in what will be a much analysed period of history.”
The Conference said, as an international network, it “supports a flexible approach that takes into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency while safeguarding the values of the right to access information.”It asked governments to support this vision.
It expressed its support and gratitude to those who are dedicated to tackling the current pandemic.
The ICIC connects Information Commissioners, Ombudspersons and other bodies charged with overseeing the implementation of Access to Public Information legislation.
The list of members of the ICIC Governance Working Group can be accessed online at https://informationcommissioners.org/meet-the-executive-committee.