Review of Archives Act will strengthen public records


THE Amendment of the ‘The Archives Act 1994’ will create a stronger obligation for government ministries to surrender sensitive public records to the National Archives of Solomon Islands (NASI).

This is according to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Andrew Nihopara.

Mr Nihopara told Island Sun in an interview this week that the Government is currently working on reviewing Act.

He said his ministry is working to establish the National Archives Advisory committee, and then that committee will meet and document the necessary adjustment and amendment that they want for the current Act.

Mr Nihopara said since The Archives Act 1994 was in place, it provided for the establishment of the National Archives of Solomon Islands.

It also provided for the establishment of the Archives Advisory Committee or Council, that looks after all the affairs of the Archives.

“Anything Archives have to do need to be passed by the board, unfortunately the Act hasn’t been activated since it came in.

“So there has not been an establishment of a national Archives Advisory Committee. But the mandate to change the provisions within the Act or any mandate with regards to the work of the national archives has to be endorsed by the National Archives Advisory board,” Mr Nihopara said.

He said the new digital preservation that is currently carried out by NASI needs to be captured in the Archives Act when it amended.

“The other one is creating much stronger within the Archives Act to obligate ministries or government to surrender sensitive public records to the Archives because that is required by law.

“There are records that need to be kept here on what is known as 30-year rule. This means sensitive records cannot be disclosed to the public, but will be held at the National Archives for 30 years, before it can be made public.

“These are the provisions we want to strengthen in the Act. The other one is to make the Archives become more accessible centre for both domestic and international students that want to access historical record,” he said.

Nihopara said at the moment, government ministries do not comply with the Act to surrender government records to NASI which calls for its review and amendment.

“No ministry, even the Ministry of Finance, perhaps due to ignorance, know that there is an Archive Act that requires them to surrender public records to The National Archives.  

“There has been an awareness going on, we have partnered with the public service ministry to reach to other ministries to create awareness about the public records management.

“But that’s about the record management policy, then when it comes to some sensitive public service records which is what mention in the Act, no body seem to be aware of.

“So we probably make the necessary amendments in the act, and perhaps that would also give weight to us to reach out to them and say, you’re obligated under this act to surrender certain types of public records to the NASI,” Mr Nihopara said.

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