Train judges on RTI law – Nigerian lawyer to Ghanaians

Wed, 24 Jul 2019 Source: Class FM

Judges and the entire Judiciary in Ghana must be trained on the Right To Information Law which was passed by Parliament in March 2019, Maxwell Kadri, A chief Legal Officer, Africa Programme, Open Society Justice Initiative, has told Ghanaian authorities.

He stated that the judges in Ghana, just as their colleagues in other African countries, are likely to find portions in the law that will inure to their benefits as far as its interpretation is concerned. He also said some may not have the capacity to interpret the law properly, hence the need for the coalition to build their capacity.

Speaking at a Civil Society Stakeholders Forum on the RTI Act 2019 (ACT 989) organised by the Coalition with support from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiatives (CHRI) and OSIWA, in Accra on Tuesday July 23 Mr Kadri explained that some judges in South a few years ago set a high threshold for the RTI law, which was above the ones proposed by the legislature.

That, he said, negatively affected the implementation of the law, hence Ghana must draw lessons from that experience.

“You will need to train your judges on the RTI law. You need programme that enables continues capacity building for the judiciary on this legislation.

“Why is that absolutely important? This is because this is one of those laws that is double-sided. Your law like every good access to information law does not exempt the judiciary from compliance.

“The judiciary has a compliance obligation. In the contest of the compliance of the law if you don’t get quick in the game to get the judiciary in the broader picture, in the contest of interpretation they will also be looking at how the law affects them as a group because they are human beings.”

Mr Kadri further called on the coalition to get the state to simplify the RTI Act into the local languages in order to ensure smooth implementation at the districts and local levels.

“That is the only way to make the implementation meaningful at the district and local levels. Even lawyers had to take their time to unpack the law, how much more illiterates,” he said.

For his part, a member of the Coalition on the RTI Law, Professor Kwame Karikari, called on the Judiciary to build the capacity of the judges on the RTI law.

“The judiciary must also build the capacity of the judges so that the judges will be abreast with the spirit and letter of the law so that they can, as their position is meant to be, can help use the law to expand and consolidate democracy,” he said.

The former Executive Director for the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) added: “Let us also ask the politicians particularly the government itself to be committed to what it has passed. Because a lot of times government pass laws just to get the pressure off their back.

“We hope this is not like that so we are hoping that President Akufo-Addo and his government will make do their promise that this law will be a practicalised.”

Source: Class FM

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