View Full Version : What Ghanaians Should Know About Right To Information Bill

15th October 2011, 01:49 PM
The Right to Information Bill is an Act to provide for the implementation of the constitutional right to information held by a government agency.

The information is subject to the exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of the public interest in a democratic society, to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters.
This was contained in a document dubbed: Right to Information Bill-Frequently asked questions, produced by the Coalition on the Right to Information-Ghana.

The Coalition is a group of civil society organisations and human rights activists working to promote good governance and transparency through the mechanism of a freedom of information law, with support from the Open Society Justice Initiative of West Africa.
The document said the Bill was designed to give the Ghanaian public the right to access official information and enforces the fundamental human right of the Right to Information, a right given in Article (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

The information consist any data or facts, regardless of its form, be it printed document, a computer record, an audio recording, or any other format.
It will give Ghanaians the right to request for information, which is held by a government agency. This however subject to exemptions set out in the Bill.

It will also mean that Government agencies have to disclose such information to the public even in the absence of any formal requests from the public.
The Right to Information gives Ghanaians citizens the right to access information from the Government. This will allow the public to know what is taking place in public offices, and the ability to observe policies, decisions and the conduct of civil servants.
The Right to Information law strengthens democracy by increasing citizen participation through empowerment and promotes transparency and accountability in public offices.

In the Bill, anybody including non-citizens has the right to apply to access information as stated in Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Anybody can apply to any Government agency or body for access to information, according to the Right under the Right to Information Bill.
The public can be given any information unless is it exempted under the Bill.

Section 20 of the Bill gives guidelines on how an application for information can be made, which explained that it must be done in writing, sufficiently describing the information being requested for.
It must also describe how one would like to access the information, either by seeing a hard or electronic copy, or by viewing images or hearing sounds if it is visual or audio information.
The person making the application must give his or her address for contact.
Application for access to information can be made orally when the would-be applicant cannot make the application in writing due to illiteracy or disability.

In this case the applicant can speak-out the request to an officer who will put it in writing. A copy of the request will be given to the applicant.
Application for access to information can be made on behalf of someone else as long as the one submitting the application on behalf of the applicant states the capacity in which the person seeks to act to the satisfaction of the officer dealing with the request.
An applicant will have to pay a fee determined by agency guidelines. The amount will be determined by any costs incurred in retrieving the information, such as computer access and postage costs.
The cost will also be affected by the amount of time taken to retrieve the information. However an agency cannot charge fees for a manual search for information, which takes two hours or less.

Each additional hour will attract a price to be determined at the time.

Once a valid application for access to information has been made, it will be dealt with by either the information officer, or another officer who has been designated with the task.
The officer will then make a decision on the application and send a written notice to the applicant within 21 working days from the date of receipt of the application.

This will state whether or not access to the information, or part of the information, can be given. If accepted, it will state further details about accessing the information. If rejected the notice will list the reason or reasons for refusing access.

Source: GNA