The Right to Information (RTI) Commission has taken its public engagement to the Volta Region capital to get the citizens involved in the implementation of the Right to Information Act (Act 989).
The public lecture, organised at the Ho Technical University Auditorium, brought together lecturers and students of the institution, media personnel and some members of the general public.
It was under the theme: “Your Right to Access Information and the Role of the Commission.”
The lecture was aimed at sensitising participants on the implementation of the Act and accord them the opportunity to interact with the Commission and share their concerns.
The Commission is set up under the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act, 989) to promote, monitor, protect and enforce the right to information that is granted to a person under Article 21(1)(f) of the 1992 constitution.
Mr Yaw Sarpong Boateng, Executive Secretary of the Commission said the engagement was necessary to let the citizens appreciate the new law, know their rights under the Act and how to apply it as part of their constitutional rights.
“You cannot go around enforcing the law, when you haven’t taken time to explain it to the people and help them appreciate their rights under the law,” he said, and that the exercise was to educate the people and ensure they understood what the RTI law was about.
He said the vision of the Commission was to facilitate the right of access to information; promote and sustain awareness of the citizenry in their right of access to information and of institutions in their obligation to disclose information.
Mr Boateng noted that the Commission started the education on radio stations, however, the time was not sufficient to explain in detail the contents of the law and allowed people to call in and ask questions, so this “opens up the floor for people to interact with us.”
The Executive Secretary said it was a requirement of the law that the Right to Information Commission continued to sustain awareness of the right to information law across the length and breadth of the country.
“The RTI helped the citizens to enjoy and protect their fundamental freedoms, makes institutions more transparent and accountable, improves service delivery from government ministries as well as departments and agencies and encourages public participation in matters that concern them,” he said.
Mr Boateng said when people applied for information in public institutions, and were denied access to the information, the majority of them did not seek for review because they were not aware that they had a right of review at the RTI Commission.
The Executive Secretary explained that applicants did not pay for generating information but for the reproduction of the information and the amount proposed by the Commission for the agencies to charge was very minimal.
“What you pay for is the reproduction of the information. So, let us make that distinction quite clear. If I apply for information and the institution must give me the information in the form of a print, I must understand that it cost the agency some money to print a document for me.”
The Executive Secretary charged the participants to serve as ambassadors of the RTI law and urged the citizens to make good use of the law to have access to relevant information that would aid them in their work.
Some participants who spoke to the Ghana News Agency thanked the Commission for the lecture and pledged their support to the Commission in the discharge of its mandate.
They described the introduction of the RTI law as a good move and promised to be ambassadors of the law, saying it would help them access vital information in the course of their duties.