President’s Office calls for applicants to post of information commissioner

The President’s Office has called for applicants for Information Commissioner – a post created under the recently ratified Right to Information Act.

Announced in the government gazette today, the applications process will be open until 3pm on June 1.

Under the act, President Abdulla Yameen is mandated to appoint a commissioner for a five-year term who will enforce citizens’ rights to information. The appointment is required within six months of its ratification in January.

The commissioner has the power enforce a fine on information officers who deliberately refuse access to information. Such a fine may not exceed MVR5000 (US$324).

The successful applicant will also be responsible for fining any individual who destroys requested information, or obstructs a public authority from providing access to information. Such a fine may not exceed MVR25,000 (US$ 1621).

Under the act, any public authority is obliged to comply with a request for information within 21 days. However, if the request is relevant to an individual’s liberty or protection of a person’s life, information must be provided within 48 hours.

Following the passage of the act, local NGO Transparency Maldives described it as “an important step towards increasing transparency of the state institutions, ensuring greater accountability of public officials, and fighting corruption”.

Other key features of the act include the establishment of an information office in all state institutions, a seven-day period of response for information requests, and a 30-day period to provide the information or to explain a failure to do so.