The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has organised a day’s programme for media personnel and other stakeholders on the Right To Information (RTI) law to highlight some cardinal points the law is about, re-echo the role journalists are to play as the Fourth Estate, and the processes involved in accessing the needed information.
This event was held in Accra yesterday for senior journalists and (news) editors to understand the Act, which was passed in 2019.
Mr. Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the MFWA, addressing the participants, expressed his feelings about the current law, and also gave examples of nations like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Liberia among others, who have passed this law, and its benefits in serving their nations.
According to him, similar programmes are going to be organised for journalists in other regions, as well as organise some fora with government appointees to make sure they know what this law is about, and what they are to provide to journalists, as and when they knock on their doors. Sweden, Norway and other advanced nations have passed this law for basically 200 years and more.
An in-depth explanation into the law was done by Mr. Sampson Lardy Ayenini, a media practitioner, lawyer and activist.
“Among other things, this RTI law gives the officials in those institutions power to fetch you the necessary information. If they give you a portion of the information or fail to do so, you can appeal to the head(s) of institutions where they are to verify from the information officers (in their departments), and then fetch you the information you want,” he said.
He explained to the over fifty media practitioners, who came from the print, radio, online and television stations, as well as concerned groups, the procedures one has to go through whilst obtaining information from institutions which are state-owned, or providing a particular service to the public and acting in the public interest.
Lawyer Ayenini further told the journalists that the RTI law mandates officials in public institutions to provide journalists with the necessary information without delay, and that, if the required information is delayed, there are certain channels and procedures to go through before taking the final option of going to the law court to compel the party(ies) to do so.
“The public must know what this law is about. They must know what it entails, the pros and cons, and how to go about it. And you, as a media (practitioners), are supposed to hold governments accountable,” he said.
On the exemption clauses, Mr. Ayenini espoused that such information are those that border on national security, the health of key officers like the President and his Vice among others.
Source: Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah||thechronicle.com.