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Volunteer Attorneys Panel Launched in Jamaica for Freedom of Information Cases


CONTACT: Carole Excell
In Kingston, 876-755-3641

Kay Torrance
In Atlanta, 1-404-420-5129

KINGSTON, JAMAICA…The Carter Center, in collaboration with the Jamaican Bar Association and the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights, launched the Volunteer Attorneys Panel to provide free legal representation to those denied their right to government information. The launch, as part of a Continuing Legal Education series held May 29, 2004, focused on the new Jamaican Access to Information Act and enforcement of similar laws in other countries.

"The right to information only truly exists if it can be enforced," said Laura Neuman, senior program associate of the Center's Americas Program. "This panel is critical to providing Jamaicans without other means to representation a voice before the courts to appeal inappropriate denials."

Noted U.S. attorney Stuart Newberger spoke of the importance of legal representation to ensure the right to information, and of his own experiences securing the release of "secret" files of the U.S. Cuban missile crisis and the Iran Contra scandal. "Lawyers have a very important role to be students of history and to be active as citizens to help others understand the role of government," he said. "As lawyers we are the advocates for ensuring democracy."

Seminar speakers encouraged Jamaican lawyers to accept access to information cases pro bono, to create precedence that will allow this human right to flourish. Other guest speakers at the seminar included Aylair Livingston, director of the Access to Information Unit of the Jamaican government, and Richard Calland, director of the South African Open Advice Democracy Center. At the seminar's conclusion, several attorneys demonstrated their commitment to this new right by joining the Panel. For further information on the panel, please call Carole Excell at 755-3641.

Seven government ministries and agencies began accepting information requests in January 2004. The second phase of the Act's implementation mandates that an additional seven public entities begin responding to requests this week. Full government implementation of the Act is expected within the next 18 months.


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. To learn more about The Carter Center, please visit:

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