Journalists urged to test the RTI law

Accra- Journalists have been called to test the Right to Information (RTI) Act by applying for information from the information holders through the law.

Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, a journalist and lawyer, said they should try it (RTI) and if denied, take action at the High Court.

He was addressing journalists in Accra on Thursday 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).

Mr Anyenini said Ghana has passed many laws but would not implement them until government was sued.

He said the law, which would be implemented in January 2020 had not had its road map followed, stating that every roadmap has been missed.

He said irrespective of the delay the right thing has been done to ensure its implementation and called on government to put in the right machinery to kick-start the implementation.

Enumerating the roadmap, he said, government should ensure the RTI infrastructure was put in place, the Legislative Instrument (LI) and set up its commission.

Mr Anyenini said the Commission would have to publish guidelines to enable the information holding institutions to determine how to design their manuals.

He said there is the need for government to ensure that people with the expertise were employed as well as engage stakeholders such as MFWA to do the needful.

The stakeholders, he said, are to assist the media to get the Act worked as well as mobilise lawyers to help push it.

He 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.

He said the Act is a fundamental human right which was 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 said.

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.

He said the manual 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.

Mr Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of MFWA, said we have spent two decades in passing the law just to have access to information.

He expressed 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.

Mr Braimah said apart from the journalists in the Greater Accra, 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 can educate others on how to use the RTI law.

Source: Ghana News Agency