Panelists at the just ended 7th Virtual Accountability Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (ARAP) National Dialogue, called on the Government to accelerate the implementation of the Right to Information Law to ensure that the full operationalisation of the law to Ghanaians.
They argued for the immediate establishment of the Right to Information Commission and the Secretariat as has been outlined in the roadmap.
The Dialogue, organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), with support from the European Union was on the theme: “Right to Information” was streamed live on Joy 99.7FM and Joy News and transmitted on its affiliate stations on nationwide.
Pursuant to the principle of probity and accountability which underlines the constitutional provision of Article 21(1)(f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the passage of the Right to Information Law (Act 989) of 2019; the dialogue touched on the process and access of Information under the law.
The panelists also looked at how the Right to Information Law will complement other mechanisms for Anti-Corruption and Public Accountability efforts in the country.
Hon. Ben Abdallah Banda, MP and Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, alluded to the fact that full implementation of the law was still in the offing, adding the ministry of information was working with the presidency for the appointment of the Commissioner of Information.
Although, Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwarfo, Executive Director, Ghana Integrity Initiative expressed disappointment about the seemingly lack of transparency in telling Ghanaians about the stage of implementation of the RTI.
Calling for the implementation of the structures, she said the law is nothing if it is not being implemented to give the citizenry the right kind of information to help fight corruption in the country.
Ms. Mina Mensah, Director, Africa Office of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who highlighted the importance of broader involvement of the public and stakeholder in the processes of implementing the RTI Law called for transparency.
She said the way the law is structured would help the citizenry if it is implemented properly.
The Chairman of the NCCE, Ms. Josephine Nkrumah, in a remark said the Commission will use the Dialogue as a lunch pad to undertake mass education for both public institutions and the citizenry to complement the work of the RTI Secretariat of sensitising the public on the law the citizen’s obligation.
She said the free flow of information is a necessity for democracy to grow and thrive, with citizen’s participation to demand information in order to access accountability and also to fight corruption.
The Chairman said an informed citizenry facilitates a functioning democracy, adding that the RTI act as a tool for promoting transparency is critical in these times when as a country we know that we lose about $3billion annually to corruption, a menace that ravages the benefits of democracy and hinders the progress of socio-economic development.
Pieter Smidt Van Gelder, Head of Political Section and Deputy Head of Mission of the European Union Delegation to Ghana stressed the need to ensure proper education of the citizenry on the use of the Right to Information law in order to avoid abuse of the law.
He stated that it was important to engage, educate, and empower citizens on the proper use of the law and its significance to the nation’s democracy.
The one-and-half hour programme moderated by Lawyer Samson Lardy Anyenini, Lawyer and Host of NewsFile, was also geared towards the full utilisation of the Right to Information to complement other mechanisms for Anti-Corruption and Public Accountability efforts.