Programmes Officer of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Kwaku Krobea Asante, has stated that there is limited knowledge by various institutions on the Right to Information (RTI) law. He disclosed that the MFWA has tested the law by writing to public institutions but realized the knowledge on it is low.
Speaking on the level of awareness of the RTI law, he expressed worry over the seeming failure of the Right to Information (RTI) law, saying that the 20-year battle for the realization of the law may have gone down the drain, as most people have not fully grasped the essence of the law, including journalists.
“From where we sit as the Media Foundation for West Africa and having done extensive work on the access to information law over the past 20 years, I still think there is no or very limited knowledge and awareness of the law. Despite being in the 2nd year of its implementation, I say awareness is low. On our own, we have tried to test this law by writing to public institutions and local government institutions in three different regions to sit back and wait and see how they react to the law. And we made these requests hoping to realize the spirit of the law and what it hopes to achieve.
“We also went to test the tenets of the law and what it stipulates institutions to do when they receive such a request and we realized that even among these public institutions whom the law largely bases to be functional, we find very low knowledge and very limited resources to them.”Kweku Asante
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Touching on journalist’s awareness, Mr. Asante said the profession whose mandate is to deal with information and educate the public, also have low awareness and understanding of the law. According to him, it has already been two years since the law was implemented and believes a considerable number of people should have been well aware of the law.
“I think we are facing this challenge because we don’t see much aggressive publicity or visibility campaigns by the institutions that are mandated to do so. This campaign on the law has largely been about coalitions. We don’t seem to get the government contributing to creating awareness on the law.”Kweku Asante
He posited that it is not only the duty of the government to undertake these educational campaigns but insisted it plays a huge role. He therefore urged other authorities to help with educating Ghanaians on the law.
“It goes two ways but I place much more responsibility in the hands of government. As we all know, it is the Ministry of Information heading this exercise and there is the Right to Information Commission. We have heard a lot of information from the minister on the officers they have trained to sensitize Ghanaians on the law. If we talk about resources to get the work done, it is supposed to be the responsibility of government and we as journalists have to also bear some level of responsibility. This is because we work on the maxim of educating and informing the public, but it largely falls on the authorities.”Kweku Asante
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