The Coalition on the Right to Information has lamented government’s failure to set in motion milestones which will facilitate the implementation of the Right To Information Bill one year after President Akufo-Addo approved the Act (Act 989).
In a statement issued and copied to GhanaWeb, the civil group expressed disappointment in the Information Ministry over their inability to enforce the president’s directives.
They, however, admitted that the onset of the global pandemic, the Coronavirus had changed the course and direction of several policies of the Ministry, adding that it was important to not entirely abandon the objectives.
The objectives which have been left hanging one year after the passing of the RTI Act include:
1. Set up the RTI Commission Office, appoint Commissioners and fully staff and train the Office (all by 10th October 2019),
2. Equip the Office of Head of Civil Service to set up Information Units within all public institutions, and recruit, train and place Information Officers in these Units (by end of August 2019),
3. Design template of Information Manual for Public Institutions (by September 9th, 2019), and
4. Draft a Legislative Instrument and lay the same before Parliament by October 2019.
The coalition intimated that the Information Ministry, now more than ever, had to be transparent and forward about how government was tackling the deadly pandemic to ease and reduce misinformation to Ghanaians.
“While we acknowledge the challenges brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Coalition wishes to emphasize that access to timely and adequate information and the need for implementing the RTI roadmap has become more important than ever in these times of COVID-19. Crucially, Ghanaians need to know exactly what Government is doing to tackle the crisis, and how duty bearers will be held to account for policies and the increased emergency-related public spending during these times. But more importantly, is having the appropriate mechanism for accessing such critical information,” part of the statement reads.
“Similarly, we call on all citizens to take advantage of the RTI Act to demand information on public health data around coronavirus cases, deaths, testing, facilities, the country’s involvement in drug trials, contingency planning and other issues.
Effective implementation and use of RTI law require driving both the ‘supply-side’ (government establishing the internal systems and ensuring compliance) and ‘demand-side’ (citizenry using the law to demand for information and monitoring implementation),” they added.
Read the full statement below: