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22.05.2019 General News

Exemption Clauses Will Make RTI Law Ineffective—Kwesi Pratt

Kwesi PrattKwesi Pratt

Senior Journalist and Managing Editor of The Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr has expressed doubts on the effectiveness of the Right To Information law.

He says it will be difficult for the RTI Law to achieve the purpose for which it was enacted due to the numerous exemption clauses in the act.

According to him, the exemptions covering mostly National Security and the Presidency are too many such that, the law may not be able to empower the Ghanaian public as it intended to prior to its enactment.

Pratt said this on MetroTV Good Morning Ghana Programme, Wednesday May 22, 2019.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday May 21, announced that he gave presidential assent to the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.

At a signing ceremony, President Akufo Addo stated enthusiastically that he received the Bill on Monday May 20, and decided to sign it on Tuesday simply because he had promised to sign it immediately it got to his desk

The Presidential consent effectively translates the bill into a working law after Ghana's Parliament passed it a month ago.

The bill has already come under heavy criticism despite the fact that it would give the general public access to official information without much of unnecessary bureaucracy.

But contributing to the MetroTV on the Bill, Mr Pratt critiqued that, contrary to the initial expectations that the RTI law will do the magic, the current law outlined a number of processes before one can access information.

According to him, this long process would be a hindrance to many including the media.

He expressed doubts that the law which would become operational in 2020, would achieve the purpose when Parliament turned down some issues raised by stakeholders of the Bill and went ahead to passed it.

In his view, the numerous exemption clauses might become another stumbling block to access to information from institutions.

He noted that such clauses could be abusively used to deny citizens the right to essential information claiming they border on national security.

Nevertheless, the Senior Journalist noted that, in spite of those observations, he believed with time, there should be opportunities to amend those clauses to meet the demands of the public to make the RTI law more useful.

Mr Eugene Antwi, a Deputy Minister for Works and Housing who was a Co-panelist on the show, expressed similar sentiment but noted that, if those exemptions clauses were not added the same public would abuse the law.

He said, information on national security are of the public interest and he doubts any government would deliberately deny its citizens the right to certain information without proper explanation.

The RTI Law, Mr Antwi said had also outlined the process of obtaining and giving out information.

The RTI law would become officially operational 12 months after PresidentAkufo-Addo consented on it for members of the general public to access information from both public and private institutions.

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