Non-citizens can apply for information under RTI Law – Akoto Ampaw

Akoto Ampaw, a legal practitioner, has stated that non-Ghanaians, citizens, and journalists can apply for information at public and private offices that undertake public functions or are funded by the public purse under the Right to Information (RTI) Law.

“The RTI law, which allows members of the public to access information from the aforementioned offices, offers everybody the right to request information through documentation without being interrogated on what he or she needs the information for,” he stressed.

Mr Ampaw made this known at a forum organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Accra to enlighten Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) on the RTI Law, which comes into effect from January 7, 2020.

He noted that MMDCEs worked in the name of the citizenry or public, hence were mandated to release all information upon request, however, explained that “there are exemptions that give information officers in offices right to deny applicants some information, such as seeking information that can undermine legitimate public or private interest and create problems for third party.

“Information Officers, according to RTI law, have 14 days to make decision on whether to release information to applicants or not and 48 hours to release information to applicants who need it to protect lives and liberty, it stipulates burden of proof, and requirement an Information Officer in extreme cases explains to applicant why information cannot be given out.

“Equally charges applicant, who needs information urgently to protect lives or liberty, to produce evidence on why information is urgently needed, willful disclosure of exempt information.

“According to Article 82(2) of the law, an offense, penalty on conviction, attracts fine of not less than 250 penalty points, more than 500 penalty points or term of imprisonment of not less than six months or more than three years or both,” Mr Ampaw indicated.

Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director of MFWA, observed that the Foundation was preparing to engage more stakeholders to help the citizenry understand RTI Law in local languages, rights and limitations to Information Law.

 Zakaria Musah, lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, asked MMDCEs and other public officials not to be intimidated by RTI Law with regards to the media, since it is a tool handed over to them to interrupt work of public officials, but they are deterred from disseminating inaccurate information.

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