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Right to Information Week launched

BY: Kadmiel Kweifio-Okai
Yaw Sarpong Boateng (2nd from right), Executive Secretary, Right To Information Commission (RTIC), Ghana, addressing journalists at the news conference. With him are Justice K.A Ofori Atta (right), Board Chairman, RTIC, Ghana, and Elizabeth Asare (left), Deputy Board Chair, RTIC, Ghana. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
Yaw Sarpong Boateng (2nd from right), Executive Secretary, Right To Information Commission (RTIC), Ghana, addressing journalists at the news conference. With him are Justice K.A Ofori Atta (right), Board Chairman, RTIC, Ghana, and Elizabeth Asare (left), Deputy Board Chair, RTIC, Ghana. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

The Right to Information Commission (RTIC) Week has been launched in Accra.

The RTI Commission will be undertaking a number of activities to create awareness and enlighten the public on the RTI Law.

Initiated last year to coincide with the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI), which fell on September 8, this year’s celebration is on the theme: “Artificial Intelligence, E-Governance and Access to Information.”

In Ghana, however, the commemoration has been extended to cover engagement with the public on the relatively new law.

Addressing a press conference to launch the week, the Executive Secretary of the commission, Yaw Sarpong Boateng, urged the public to take advantage of the law to seek information that would go to advance national development.

Activities

The RTI Commission has lined up a series of activities for the commemoration, which was officially launched by the Board Chairman of the commission, Justice K. A. Ofori Atta.

Some of the activities are a health walk, a medical screening at the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School Old Boys Association (Odadee) Alumni and Mentorship Centre in Accra on September 17, as well as quiz among national service personnel on GTV on September 25.

Also, there will be a stakeholder conference on September 26 to discuss the implementation of the law so far and the gains being made.

This year’s celebration will climax with a public forum at the Alisa Hotel, Accra, on September 28, which will look at opportunities that can be explored in implementing the RTI Week.

Mr Boateng said a number of dignitaries, including the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Information, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, members of the diplomatic corps, ministers of state, and heads of state institutions, are expected to attend the forum.

In addition, key state institutions, civil society groups, members of the press corps and the public were also to attend, he added.

Information not for sale

On the International Day for Universal Access to Information, Mr Boateng said neither the commission nor any public agency had the right to profit from giving out information.

That was because the law did not provide any room for any public agency to make money from trading information with the public, he said.

At a press conference last Thursday, he said per the law, the only cost to people who required information from a public agency was the reproduction of the information.

“The Right to Information Act does not require us to trade information or make profit out of giving access to information. If one requires information from a public agency, the only cost to incur will be the reproduction of the already existing information in the form of printed copies,” he emphasised.

What the law says

Mr Boateng said what the law required holders of information to do was to have applicants pay for the reproduction of the information.

The reproduction of the information is through making photo copies, printing or reproducing the information in any form.

“This means if I am coming for information, which already exists any way, then I should be paying for the cost of producing or reproducing that information to me,” Mr Boateng further explained.

RTI Law

The RTI Act 989 was passed by Parliament on May 21, 2019.

The Right to Information is enshrined in the 1992 Constitution under Article 21 (1) (f).

The act is a guarantor for the public to access information from public institutions and relevant private agencies.

It further makes it easier for the public to enjoy the benefits that come with the right to access information, as provided by the 1992 Constitution.

Although the RTI Act provides for the right of access to information from public agencies, some classes of information are, by legal tenets, withheld from the public.

Some classified information on the Presidency, Cabinet, law enforcement, public safety, among others, may be exempted from public exposure.