Make investigative reports available
Societies consciously or otherwise seek to improve on the way they do things by learning from past experiences, both negative and positive.
For this reason, whenever something new happens, either good or bad, communities employ mechanisms to gather data and facts to assess events to determine the best way to deal with what has happened to make society a better place to live.
It is thus not mere coincidence that Chapter 23 of the 1992 Constitution enjoins the President to, by constitutional instrument, appoint a commission of inquiry into any matter of public interest where the President is satisfied that a commission of inquiry should be appointed, among other considerations.
In the same vein, administrative enquiries are usually conducted by public institutions into issues to establish and recommend actions to curb a recurrence.
But the Daily Graphic has learnt with regret that over the years the fact-finding or investigative committees that are quickly established by our public institutions often do not make their findings public. It must be noted that such fact-finding or investigative committees consume huge resources — human, material and financial — and it is not in the interest of the country to spend resources on these committees only to allow their findings to gather dust.
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Yesterday, the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) expressed the same worry when its Chairman, Mr Kofi Kapito, called on the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to publish the list of companies producing and importing fake products into the country.
We are at a loss as to why somebody would have to call on the GSA before it deems it fit to make available information that is of public interest. We cannot belabour the serious effect substandard goods have on the health of the people. And it is only fair that the standards authority makes it known to the citizenry a list of such companies, so that the people can avoid their products to safeguard their health.
We recall that recently the GSA cautioned the populace against buying fuel from certain filling stations. At that time, it said it had the names of fuel stations that were selling substandard products. But the authority refused to make the names of the erring stations public.
We think this practice has gone on for far too long and that something drastic must be done to compel the standards authority to make its findings into issues public, but not when the disclosure can have repercussions on the country’s security.
But we shudder to ask whether these findings mentioned have any security implications.
Aside from the standards authority, and as mentioned by the CPA, we also know that many state agencies and regulatory bodies also fail to make reports of investigative committees public. The reports on the gas explosions at Atomic Junction, Kwabenya and Asokwa, as well as that on the June 3, 2015 twin disaster at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, are still ‘hidden’. The report on the BOST contaminated fuel and numerous others are still not in the public domain.
The Daily Graphic thinks there is something in investigative reports that can help us with lessons to make our society better. But the reports can better be used when citizens know the content and demand accountability from the people and the organisations that have been established to ensure that the proper thing is done.
Perhaps we can call on the Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation to intervene in this, otherwise we will say that citizens are right when they claim that the practice of shielding such reports has official complicity.