This week the Gibraltar Chronicle reported on a debate between the Chief Minister and the Hon. Gilbert Licudi about information of companies and individuals prosecuted over unpaid taxes and social security being placed in the public domain.
It is odd (to understate the position) that the Chief Minister should use an argument based on the separation of powers to justify non-publication of this information to Parliament. One of the foundations of an independent judicial system is precisely that all hearings should be held in public: so all information used is public information.
Any prosecution of any individual or company is public information: perhaps what was being kept from entering the public domain is information relating to who was benefiting unfairly by not being prosecuted!
The right of the public to information is a much wider debate. In fact the constitution provides " ... no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom ... to receive ... ideas and information without interference ..." In virtually every democratic country there is freedom of information legislation. In England there is the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
In Gibraltar no law exists giving the citizen the right to information held by Government (beyond the very specific rights granted by the Data Protection Act). Government goes about its business without fear that it may be required to give information to its electors that might lead to criticism. The unfairness of the protection that this affords public servants is unconscionable at any time but more so in this day and age.
When will we be granted the same rights that are the norm for any other citizens in most parts of the democratic world?