Partner Profile: Citizen's For a Better Bahamas
By: Kevante Cash, ORG Volunteer
If you run in advocacy and activist circles or have been following the conversation about Freedom of Information, you have probably already heard of our civil society partner Citizens for a Better Bahamas (CBB).
CBB was formed prior to the introduction of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) by a group of “concerned citizens” who firmly believed in the principles of accountability and transparency within government. These citizens insisted that these values be implemented ahead of the introduction of any new tax on Bahamians and residents.
Today, CBB’s greatest focus is The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which will allow Bahamians access to information in a timely manner and hold the government responsible for its decisions. The group was a major player in civil society’s assessment and benchmarking of the Freedom of Information Bill 2015 and the advocacy efforts which saw seven of civil society’s recommended amendments included in the final bill.
“FOIA is such an important piece of legislation for the Bahamas because it will allow citizens - the stakeholders in the country - to keep the government transparent and accountable by receiving answers to our questions and concerns about the way in which the government is being administered,” said CBB Chairman Lemarque Campbell. “Another goal of FOIA is to encourage citizen participation in the decision-making process of the country. The delays in enacting a strong FOIA in the Bahamas is a denial of a fundamental human right for all Bahamians, that being a right to information.”
More recently, CBB was instrumental in advocacy efforts for a public consultation period on the Interception of Communications Bill 2017, a bill with widespread implications for citizen privacy, rights to freedom of speech, and the effectiveness of law enforcement.
As a part of their ongoing advocacy, they are also pressing for the enforcement of the Public Disclosures Act, the introduction of a Whistleblower Protection Act and a more transparent public procurement system.
Last year, the organization signed an agreement with Transparency International (TI), the world’s leading anti-corruption agency to recognize CBB as the National Contact for TI. Through this relationship, CBB can now leverage ties with partners around the world in support of its efforts as the independent non-partisan anti-corruption watchdog in the Bahamas. This is especially important at a time when more and more citizens call for increased government accountability. This transparency would enable a greater trust of the citizens in its government.
We are delighted to call Citizens for a Better Bahamas our partner in shared efforts to tackle national issues such as a strong FOIA and the importance of transparency within administrative affairs. We believe that through strong partnerships like these the power of the people can drown out corruption.
For more information on Citizen's For A Better Bahamas visit their website: www.citizensforabetterbahamas.org