Ghana’s Right to Information Commission (RTIC) has been granted prosecutorial powers to sanction institutions that fail to comply with the Right to Information Act, 2019. This announcement was made by the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who highlighted the progress made since the law became operational in 2020.
The Access to Information Division of the Information Services Department has received over 1,000 requests from the public, mostly from media practitioners, civil society organisations, lecturers, and students. The Greater Accra Region has the highest number of requests, with 89%, followed by the Ashanti Region with 9%.
Mr Nkrumah urged public and private entities to comply with the Act to avoid sanctions. The RTIC has already imposed GHS1.3 million in penalties on 14 institutions that refused to grant applicants access to information requested. This move shows that the Commission is fully backed by the law to sanction non-compliant institutions.
To enhance access to information across the country, the Access to Information Division of the Information Services Department plans to open two satellite offices in Kumasi and Sunyani. Additionally, an online records management system will be launched to increase efficiency and enable applicants to apply for information online.
For the most part, there has been a level of public education and sensitisation by both the Access to Information Division of the ISD and the RTI Commission. However, Mr Nkrumah emphasised that there needs to be more sensitisation to increase public awareness about the RTI law. For the law to be effective, the Access to Information Division of the ISD, the public and the regulatory body (RTI Commission) should work together to achieve the objectives of the Act.
The effective use of the RTI Act would further strengthen Ghana’s democracy, as it enables citizens to hold government and all public institutions accountable and ensure a high level of transparency in governance. The Right to Information law was passed by Ghana’s Parliament on March 26, 2019, received Presidential assent on May 21, 2019, and became operational on January 1, 2020.