Transparency according to participants at a public forum on implementation of the Right to Information Act, Act 989(2018) is of importance as we seek to make the law effective to serve its purpose.
The forum organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Accra was to deliberate and discuss how the RTI implementation can be transparent hence giving Ghanaians the opportunity to understand the law well as contribute to its usage willingly..
In March 2019, the Parliament of Ghana unanimously passed the averaged RTI Bill to law, amidst demands for certain crucial amendment raised by the Coalition of RTI.
Meanwhile the RTI which would be implemented in January 2020, sought to provide a constitutional right to information held by the public and some private institutions, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of public interest in a democratic society.
It further sought to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters.
It implementation remained another challenged as government pushed it to 2020, for a full action.
A Commission is expected to be established to oversee the RTI Law utilization to archive the purpose.
However, panelists at the Wednesday September 25, public forum believed the law would be effective if only transparency is unlocked and citizens have clear mind of their rights and responsibilities.
Speaking at the forum, Manesseh Azure Awuni, an investigative Freelance Journalist believed that, existence laws with the RTI should not be play with.
Explaining that, the RTI law would not be a tool for Journalists but security services and other professional bodies as well and expressed the hope that, government will provide enough funds for its implementation.
Taking his turn, Mr.Akoto Ampaw, a private legal practitioner, revealed that, the would be Commission is an institution and must be established with people with capable hands to ensure transparency.
Therefore cautioned President Akufo-Addo not to treat the appointment of members of the Right to Information (RTI) commission as “job for the boys”.
Adding that, members to the Commission must be appointed based on merit and not political interest as such have the tendency of compromising the implementation of the law.
To him, proper consideration of appointees of the RTI commission is important since their performance will determine if the institution will have a proper foundation or not.
Speaking on the theme: “Implementation of Right to Information Bill” Akoto Ampaw identified some challenges in the RTI law and called for clear and collective voice from Ghanaians to ensure government do not derail it function.
He said government must be ready to govern with transparency and the appointment of member of the RTI commission shouldn’t be based on political merits.
“…membership of that commission is key especially because, the first members of the commission will be those who would ensure whether the institution has a proper foundation or not. If we have people appointed by the president who are there simply to do bidding of the president then we going to have a huge problem.”
“I want to appeal to the president of the country that appointment of first members of the commission should not be based on jobs for the boys or girls. It should be based on a commitment to the long-term interest of this country in building a democratic society” he added.
Other speakers were Mina Mensah of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Sammy Obeng of Parliamentary Network Africa and Godwin Ayekple, of National Records Centre.
Source: Ishmael Barfi