The Commissioner of the Right To Information Commission, Dr. Edith Dankwa, has intimated that not all information requested by the public from government can be given out.
Speaking on the public’s right especially journalists to access some governmental information, she averred that if the information is accessible within the Right To Information Act 2019, Act 989, it can be given. She explained that with the Right To Information Act 2019, Act 989, it has information that have been classified as “exempt” and one that can be easily accessed.
“You will agree with me that it is not every information you can put out there because there is information that is security-related and information that may be going to Cabinet. In this case, the President hasn’t seen it and you are asking for that information? Information that is related to, maybe, research which we can’t be privy to is because it may have security information or there is an economic value attached to it”.Dr. Edith Dankwa
Dr. Dankwa disclosed that for every information, so long as it is within the remit of Act 989, is paid for by the Ghanaian taxpayer and must be accessed for free.
“It is believed that whatever information that comes from the government has been paid for by the tax payer. So, if you are going in for any information, you should not pay again. One only has to pay for the reproduction of that information”.Dr. Edith Dankwa
State Minister on presidential travel cost information
Her comments come after the Minister of State at the Ministry of Interior, Bryan Acheampong, who doubles as Member of Parliament for Abetifi Constituency, told Parliament that he had advised the National Security Minister not to make public the cost of the President’s foreign travels. He explained that it is not every information that can be divulged to the public.
Dr. Edith Dankwa, agreed with the Minister of State but stated that a petition can be filed with the Commission if anyone feels denied of any public information within the remit of the Act.
“If you refer to the Act and it is in that you can go for information about the cost of [the President’s] travels, so be it. You can! If you are not given that information, you can petition the Commission.”Dr. Edith Dankwa
She, however, clarified that one cannot petition to have access to the information if it is “exempt” within the Right To Information Act 2019, Act 989.
Speaking on the current state of the media, she averred that there is a lot more that has to be done in the sectors. She called for capacity building in the media space in the country to meet global standards. She disclosed that she finds it worrying when the international media comes in and takes up the media space in the country.
“I think there should be a deliberate effort to put media, Ghanaian owned media businesses out there. The stakeholders must ensure that the environment is conducive and media is supported”.Dr. Edith Dankwa