Board Chairman for the Right to Information Commission (RTIC), Justice K.A. Ofori Atta, has said all the laws that tackle information requests are now overridden by the Right to Information law (RTI), therefore institutions must begin to take note.
According to him, the (RTI) Law, Act 2019 (Act 989), allows institutions to provide the information requested by individuals without hesitating or hiding behind its own laws to deny them the needed information.
“The disclosure of information by a person or an authority is subject to this law, so this is what operates now,” he said during the official opening of the RTIC’s office and a media forum in Accra.
He added that journalists must equip themselves with the RTI law to enable them to achieve the purpose of the law – stating that it is through this that they can identify institutions which are hiding behind their laws to refuse information requests.
“Before you encounter some of these things, you should arm yourself fully with this law – because they are there to dribble you. So when you tell them what they are saying is not true because I’m supported by this, they will know that you are fully prepared. So it is very important that you know the law,” he stated.
Stressing the need for media practitioners to arm themselves with the law, he said a majority of the public get informed through the media; and therefore its role in education of the public is enormous.
Responding to fees expected to be paid by individuals in accessing information requested by them, Justice Ofori Atta said this has been submitted to parliament and the necessary processes are ongoing.
He added that though the actual fees are not out, the law mandates the institutions to charge a fee based on the cost involved in processing the information and nothing else.
Meanwhile, a lecturer and legal practitioner, Zakaria Tanko Musah, has also urged the media to draw closer to parliament and begin enquiries on what is delaying passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI).
He advised that the media should also take note of moments when the Commission cannot accept or attend to every request presented before them – but that should not bring conflicts between them, calling for collaborative work between the media and the Commission.
“It is not always when an appeal goes before the Commission that they will reply. When this happens, the media will see the Commission as an enemy – and this would be a tragedy that could affect work of the Commission. We must appreciate that the Commission has a role to play, and in doing that it is a very difficult situation,” he said.