The Right to Information (RTI) Commission on Wednesday organised a public lecture to sensitise the public to the RTI Act 2019, (Act 989), in Koforidua, in the Eastern Region.
The lecture was also intended to promote transparency in the public discourse and enable the citizenry to hold the government and institutions accountable.
Heads of public institutions, security agencies, members of private entities, which provide public services and journalists participated in the public lecture.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of the RTI Commission, Yaw Sarpong Boateng noted that though the RTI Act gives individuals the right to access information, not all information could be accessed.
According to him, some categories of information were exempt from public disclosure, as stated in sections five and 17 of the RTI Act.
Mr Boateng mentioned information on the President or Vice President, Cabinet, information relating to law enforcement and public safety, information affecting international relations, tax and personal matters as some of the exempt information.
“All these categories of information that are exempt and for instance, if a memo has been prepared for the utilization of the president and it has not yet been used by him, you cannot be given that information to put outside until it is used before you can request for it,” he stated.
Mr Boateng explained that “Otherwise if we put out that information, it is likely to prejudice the work the president has to undertake and similarly all institutions exempt some information in similar manner.”
He said there was the need for the commission to educate the public on exempt information to prevent them from insisting on getting every information due to the passage of the RTI Act.
Mr Boateng noted that despite all these exemptions, there was the public interest rule and the harms test that allows certain exempt information to be released in the public interest and the non-disclosure of that information was likely to cause harm to society.
The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Seth Acheampong stated that “it is the responsibility of every citizen in the country to ensure that accountability, as enshrined in the Act, becomes a reality.”
That, he said would help build trust among the citizenry, adding it would lead to the development of the country.
Mr Acheampong appealed to the public to embrace the RTI law and use it for the benefit of the whole country.