This week Premier Alden McLaughlin said he craved patience on the permanent residency issue, but one man’s patience has run out that of Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers.
On Thursday (20 October) Mr. Liebaers issued an order directing the Office of the Premier to hand over the so-called “Ritch Report,” which reviews the current immigration law.
The acting Information Commissioner is putting his foot down, hours after issuing an order, instructing the Premier’s office to turn over the PR report to him.
“The ball is in their court. I have made it clear that I require access to that document,” Mr Liebaers said.
He added, “The law quite strongly states that power to see all exempt records and it actually says that none of those records may be withheld from the Commissioner in the course of an appeal.”
After saying he’d been given the run-around for the last three weeks and *finally being told Tuesday he would not get the report Mr. Liebaers took action, issuing the order, but he says it could mean further delays.
“I hope and I have ordered them to provide the document to me without delay, but by law they have 45 days to seek judicial review. So they could wait 45 days essentially.
The premier restated his view that the report is not a public document, but Mr Liebaers says he has two appeals before him on the issue and he needs to the report to make a determination, but releasing it is another issue.
“That does not mean that the record will be made public. We are talking about providing the document to the Information Commissioner’s Office so we can make our determination,” he said.
This is the seventh time his office has issued such an order since the Freedom of Information Law was enacted in 2009 and on all other occasions the documents were eventually produced. So far, we have not received answers to our inquiries to the Premier.
Around 900 PR applications are sitting in the Immigration department, not one application has been approved once submitted after the law change in October 2013.
Government commissioned the Ritch report last year after the Chief Justice overturned two PR decisions that were denied under the old law.