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General News of Thursday, 28 March 2019

Source: Myjoyonline.com

‘Much ado about nothing’: RTI campaigner dismisses Haruna Iddrisu ‘policy credibility’ concerns

A Right to Information (RTI) campaigner has dismissed suggestions that the credibility of the RTI law has been dented because it will be shepherded by the Information Ministry.

Samuel Obeng, a member of the Steering Committee of the Media Coalition on RTI, described the concern as “much ado about nothing,” explaining that there were more important issues about the newly passed law.

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said Wednesday that the new law faced a major policy credibility issue because of the last minute decision to make the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the supervising minister of the law instead of the Attorney-General, Gloria Akuffo.

He said because the RTI law was promulgated to fight white-collar corruption, the Attorney-General was best suited to shepherd the law.

However, speaking on PM Express on Wednesday, Samuel Obeng said that concern does not even feature among the issues that Civil Society Organisations see as relevant for the effective implementation of the law.

“I must say that it is not one of the things that we even considered as a Coalition. My personal view is that the Minority Leader’s call is best described as much ado about nothing,” he said on the nightly current affairs programme on Joy News, a MultiTV channel.

“It was explained that Cabinet had actually had a meeting on the matter and Cabinet had decided that it be shifted for policy purposes from the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to the Ministry of Information Ministry and…this done when the definition for Minister…[to mean] Minister responsible for Information…

“In the bill, there are times when the report of the [Right to Information] Commission must be presented to Parliament…in Parliament, the Right to Information Commissioner cannot come and present a report; who stands in to present the report for him or her? The minister responsible for information,” he explained.

He said the designation of a Minster to shepherd the law is only for administrative purposes in Parliament, suggesting that another minister could have been given a supervisory role.

Mr Obeng said per his reading of the law, the supervisory role granted the minister responsible for information does not give the minister the mandate to interfere in the work of the RTI Commission.

Agreeing with the views expressed by Samuel Obeng, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah, also said on the show that RTI Commission’s work will not be influenced by the shepherding ministry.

He said the RTI Commission, in essence, will hold the true supervisory role of the RTI law because it will be an independent body with the important role of championing the right to information among Ghanaians.