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General News of Sunday, 31 March 2019


RTI campaigner rejects policy credibility concerns

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Samuel Obeng, a member of the Steering Committee of the Media Coalition on Right to Information (RTI) has rejected suggestions that the credibility of the RTI law has been dented because it will be shepherded by the Information Ministry.

He described the concern as “much ado about nothing”, and there were more important issues about the newly passed law.

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu noted that the new law faced a major policy credibility issue because of the last minute decision to make the Ministry of Information the supervisory ministry of the law instead of the Attorney-General’s Department.

He insisted that because the RTI law was promulgated to fight white-collar corruption, the Attorney-General’s Department was best suited to shepherd the law and called the decision a bad move.

However, Mr Obeng intimated that “concern does not even feature among issues civil society organisations realise as relevant for effective and efficient implementation of the law, I must say it is not one of the things we even considered as a coalition, my personal view is the Minority Leader’s call is best described as “much ado about nothing”.

“It was explained that cabinet had actually had a meeting on the matter and had decided it be shifted for policy purposes from the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to the Ministry of Information done when 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, 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.

“The designation of a minster to shepherd the law is only for administrative purposes in parliament, suggesting that another minister can be given supervisory role, per my reading of the law, the supervisory role granted the minister responsible for information does not give the minister mandate to interfere in the work of RTI Commission,” Mr Obeng pointed out.

Agreeing with the views expressed by Mr Obeng, the Chairman of Parliament’s

Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah, indicated that RTI Commission’s work would not be influenced by the shepherding ministry, the RTI Commission, in essence, will hold true supervisory role of the RTI law because it will be an independent body with an important role of championing right to information among the citizenry.