The Information Ministry has justified its supervisory role of the recently passed Right to Information Bill instead of the Attorney General.
According to the sector Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah the role of the Information Ministry is purely administrative and not to manipulate contents of information to government’s advantage.
The Minority in Parliament questioned the decision of government to make the Information Minster; the supervisor of the bill describing it as a major shortfall which will affect its policy credibility.
Addressing the media in Accra on Sunday, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah insisted the Information Ministry’s role is within the law.
“Whoever says the Ministry of Information administering the part of the RTI gives government an opportunity to twist information has not read the bill.There is no interface that the Ministry of Information has to change the nature of the information that is available or to even put a spin on narrative on it. It is just an administrative process.
“The reason for which it was initially the Attorney General was not about twisting of information. It was because Article 211 (f) is a constitutional right. It is part of our human rights and the one who supervises it is the Attorney General so in giving life to Article 211 (f) the Attorney General was the one who was decimated to bring the bill to Parliament. Now that life has been given to it and is nearly an administrative process, that is why you are going through the structure that is responsible for Information Unit and Information officers.”
The Minority had described as a major mistake, the decision of the government to make the Information Minister, the supervising Minister for Right to Information (RTI) instead of the Attorney General.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, had said this affects the policy credibility of the legal framework.
“I believe that the government has already lost it. Lost it because the Shepherding Minister has been reduced to the Ministry of Information. Right to Information is not about propaganda or government information or government misinformation. It is about the right of access to information to aid in exposure.
“What decisions the Executive and Parliament and others may take so in my view, to substitute the Attorney General for the Minister of Information itself waters down the policy credibility of the Right to Information.”
Parliament finally passed RTI Bill into law on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, after several policy changes and amendments.
The RTI is supposed to be a fundamental human right guaranteed by the Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The passage of the Bill gives substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society.”
The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999 under former President, Jerry John Rawlings.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in its 2008 and 2012 election manifestos promised to ensure the Bill was passed. In 2010, it was presented to Parliament for consideration.
In 2011, the government signed unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative with a commitment to pass the law. In November 2013, the Bill was formally laid before Parliament.
Former Attorney General, Deputy Dominic Ayine in 2015, moved the Bill for second reading in Parliament. In October 2016, the Bill was withdrawn and replaced with a new one which was immediately laid.
Following the dissolution of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic and the swearing-in of new Parliament in January 2017, the Bill had to be re-laid by the new government before work commences on it.