The Coalition on the Right to Information Ghana (RTI Coalition) has learnt with grave concern the response given by lawyers of the Electoral Commission (EC) to a Right to Information (RTI) request made by the Hon. Member of Parliament for Ashaiman Constituency, Mr. Ernest Henry Norgbey. The RTI Coalition considers the response, as contained in a letter from Amenuvor & Associates (lawyers for the EC) dated 12th February 2020, as unfortunate and a demonstration of a lack of appreciation of the spirit behind the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989).
The excuse that the EC is unable to provide the information sought by a citizen of Ghana because “the fees and charges applicable are yet to be determined in accordance with the law,” falls flat in the face of Section 27(1) of Act 989 which provides for the only reasons why access to information can be refused.
Section 27(1) of Act 989 provides as follows;
“A public institution may refuse access to information if the application is manifestly frivolous or vexatious; or the information is an exempt information”
The EC’s reason for refusal of access does not satisfy any of the two conditions above. Additionally, we are minded by the fact that the Act provides in Section 75(2)(c) that a fee or charge shall not be payable for “the reproduction of information which is in the public interest.” We consider Mr. Norgbey’s request as one in the public interest, and hence see the refusal of access as a missed opportunity for the election management body to strengthen its credibility and impartiality.
We encourage Mr. Norgbey to exhaust the entire processes of internal reviews and appeals as stipulated in Act 989, including application to High Court for judicial review or asserting his rights under Section 65 of the Act.
It is for this reason also that we call on the President of the Republic, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to see to the establishment of the RTI Commission and appoint the first members of the Board of the Commission without any further delay.
We urge all Ghanaians to endeavour to assert their rights under this law, as the RTI Coalition and its partners assures all persons living in Ghana of our support to you should you require assistance in any RTI application process.