To ensure the Right To Information (RTI) Act lives to its expectation, media practitioners have been tasked to test the Act by applying for information from the information holders through the law.
According to a season journalist and lawyer, Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, it is of importance for journalists to try RTI Act that, if denied, actions should be taken at the High Court.
He made these comments during his interaction with journalists at a day’s training on the newly passed RTI law for media practitioners in the Greater Accra Region.
The event was organised by Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
To him, Ghana has passed many laws but its implementations is a challenge to government until government is sued.
The law which would be implemented in January 2020 he noted don’t have its road map followed, stating that every roadmap has been missed.
Irrespective of the delay, he a knowledged that, the right thing needs to be done to ensure its implementation and called on government to put in the right machinery to kick-start the implementation.
Enumerating the roadmap, he observed that, there is the need for government to ensure the RTI infrastructure is put in place as well the Legislative Instrument (LI) and its commission is set up.
To enable information holding institutions to determine how to design their manuals regarding to Act, Mr Anyenini explained that, the Commission would have to publish guidelines.
Touching on the human resource, Lawyer Anyenini emphasized on the need for government to ensure that, people with the expertise are employed as well as ensure continuous engagement of stakeholders such as Media Foundation West Africa (MFWA).
For the stakeholders, he urged them to continue to assist the media in their quest to see the Act work as well as mobilise lawyers to help push the Act agenda.
Also urged journalists to get copies of the RTI, read and educate the public on them.
Mr Anyenini took journalists through the structures of the Act, its exemption regime, omnibus clause and also information and how to access it.
Indicating that, the Act is a fundamental human right which is not for journalists but the citizenry and applying for information could be made by writing or verbal.
In applying for an information, one would interface with Information Holders (institutions), Information Officers, Institutional Heads and the RTI Commission, he opined.
Meanwhile, the work of the information officers is to generate, process, maintain and preserve information which is accurate and authentic and they have to publish a manual every year, without waiting for a request from the public.
The manual he revealed would contain departments and agencies under the information holders, their organogram, classes of information; for free or at a cost, name and details of the information officers and procedures one can seek amendments of information.
On his part, MFWA Executive Director,Mr Sulemana Braimah, Executive Directornoted that, Ghana as a country has spent two decades in passing the law just to have access to information.
Expressing the hope that this would help ensure transparency and accountability, saying that Ghana would copy the best practices from their counterparts in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia among others, who already applied the law.
Apart from the journalists in the Greater Accra, Mr. Braimah hinted that, those in Kumasi and Tamale would have their share of the training as well as all Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies in the Greater Accra so that they can educate others on how to use the RTI law.
Story By: Ishmael Barfi email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org