16 Feb 2016

Ombudsman tells Cooks' officials to follow OIA rules

8:14 am on 16 February 2016

The Cook Islands Ombudsman office says the onus is on government to make official information available unless there is a good reason to withhold it.

Cook Islands Parliament

Cook Islands Parliament Photo: Supplied

The comment by Ombudsman Tearoa Tini follows complaints by local media that government officials continue to suppress information.

He said the spirit and intent of the Official Information Act is to increase the availability of official information so Cook Islanders had more effective participation in the making and administration of laws and policies and can hold the government to account.

He said grounds for withholding the information from the public should be set out clearly.

Mr Tini said when the late Sir Terepai Maoate launched the OIA in 2009 he asked: "If we do the best job that we possibly can, why should we be afraid of the public knowing what we do?

"People working for the government have to be aware that they have to do the right thing - all the time."