Social Justice & Public Access to Information

Social justice movements are in the spotlight! Bermudians and residents are involved in activities addressing changes in public policies, the impact of new regulations on business and services, the cost of living, public school reform, the justice system and other concerns. As community voices continue to strengthen in Bermuda, PATI rights are a powerful tool for supporting their messages.

In efforts to achieve social justice, Bermudians and residents can use their PATI rights to seek factual public information that documents systemic injustices or inequalities. In many social justice movements, individuals may share their opinions, life experiences and anecdotes about unfairness. Public information is crucial for placing these individual experiences into a broader, data-driven understanding that leads to concrete solutions. This has occurred in many countries, and a few examples include:

In the UK, Unite (a leading UK union) learned through a public access request that the government had not conducted an impact assessment on the effect of longer hours on lorry (truck) drivers’ health and road users’ safety prior to passing regulations extending working hours. The regulations were relaxed as a result of driver shortages during the COVID pandemic. Unite officials had raised concerns that the measures were dangerous and ineffective, and eventually the government undertook a snap consultation in January 2022. Learn more here.

In Northern Ireland, data released in September 2023 through public access requests shows that hundreds of people lost their homes in the private rental market within just three months. Housing advocates had asked the Housing Executive for a breakdown of the number of homeless people seeking help from the Housing Executive after losing their private rental. The figures for Derry City alone were the equivalent of one family being made homeless per day. Advocates highlighted the impact of the Housing Executive’s cost-cutting measures that led to the loss of support for people already struggling to pay their rent and facing a cost of living crisis. Learn more here.

In the UK, the Guardian newspaper used public access requests to document the widespread failure of 131 universities to respond adequately to staff and students’ complaints of racial discrimination. The breadth of the data supported arguments for the need to address endemic racism within UK universities. Learn more here.

In the UK, the public learned more information about the government’s funding of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, including how the compensation payable under the Act was funded and that the money borrowed to fund the compensation programme was fully repaid in 2015. Learn more here.

In Uganda, community activists obtained information that local district leaders had distributed development resources to themselves, without any documentation. The activists exposed corruption in the local government that led to an arrest and the redistribution of resources to the rightful beneficiaries of the development program. Learn more here.

Closer to home, Bermudians and residents may use their PATI rights to seek records that show that their personal experience is reflective of a systematic injustice in need of a systemic solution. Or PATI may be used to identify a policy or other document that sets out the details of an unequal approach to public services. Understanding and using PATI rights enable Bermudians, residents and the government to engage in dialogue while referencing broad factual information, rather than competing opinions.

What do you want to know? Ask! Make a PATI request.

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