The Right To Information (RTI) Commission, has fined the Ghana Police Service GH¢ 50,000.00 for refusal to release information requested by a journalist of the Fourth Estate newspaper in Accra.
The journalist, Evans Aziamor-Mensah, made an RTI application, on August 19, 2021, to request information on budgetary allocations given to the police from 2013 to 2020.
Based on the failure of the Police to release the information to Mr Aziamor-Mensah (Applicant) as requested, he petitioned the Commission as required by the RTI laws, for which the Commission wrote to the Police asking it to release said information to the reporter.
Unfortunately, the Police failed to respond to the Commission’s letter which it had received hence the action by the Commission to impose the fine.
According to certified true copy of the Commission’s ruling dated February 7, 2022, and signed by its Executive Secretary, Yaw Sarpong Boateng, and copied to the Ghanaian Times, the police has been given 14 days in which to pay the fine.
According to the Commission, it was the complaint of the applicant that in a letter dated August 19, 2021, he requested from the Police (Respondent) via the Information Officer Government’s budgetary allocation to the Ghana Police Service for the years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Upon not receiving the information from the information officer, the Applicant applied for internal review of the refusal to furnish him (Applicant) which was dated October 13, 2021 and addressed to the Inspector General of Police.
However, the Applicant still did not receive any communication from the police, thereby compelling the him to write to the commission as required by provisions in the Act.
The commission, therefore, wrote to the Respondent in a letter dated November 2021, in which it wanted the Police (Respondent) to furnish the Commission with justification for the refusal to grant the Applicant access to the pieces of information Applicant requested).
The information requested for, according to the Commission was in exercise of Applicant’s rights under Article 21(1)(f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and Section 18 of the RTI Act 2019 (Act 989).
It was the determination of the Commission that the information which the Applicant requested and was denied off, was not part of the range of exempt information under Act 989.
“As at the date of this determination by the Commission, the Respondent had failed, neglected, and or refused to respond to the Commission‘s request for justification”, the Commission said
The Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989), passed into law in September 2019, stipulates that anyone can make a written request for information and expect a response within 20 working days. The public authority will be obliged to meet that request subject to a number of specified exemptions and certain practical and financial constraints.
BY NORMAN COOPER