The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has entreated government, private bodies, legislature and individuals to dismiss the false impression that RTI law would encourage infringement on individual privacy and tamper with national security.
CHRI said it was regrettable that since the introduction of the RTI Bill in Ghana those misconceptions had been going round in some circles.
“Whiles some believe that RTI law will promote the infringement of individual privacy due to its ability to grant access to all information, others believe that it will affect the work of the national security, benefit only the elite and serve as a catalyst for journalists to harass government officials,” CHRI added.
Ms Antoinette Akoto-Bamfo, RTI Project Assistant of the CHRI, Africa Office, made the call in a statement signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday.
CHRI said passage of RTI Bill into law would rather promote constitutional right of the citizenry to access information from Ministries, Departments and Agencies, thereby enhance transparency and accountability.
It said providing access to official information was subject to exemptions that were necessary to protect public interest and further entrench democratic principles required for national unity and integration.
RTI law would set out clearly information that are for public consumption and those that are not, as well as give credence to the fact that though individuals have the right to information, it was limited to the protection of public interest and the rights of individual’s privacy, CHRI said.
CHRI further quoted a study conducted by Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei- Atua, a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, as saying that access to information was vital to the effective promotion of national security.
Indeed, in some critical respects national security might be enhanced by limiting access to certain vital information, but added “national security is however not fundamentally at odds with freedom of expression and information,” said CHRI.
It called on Ghanaians to disregard the negative perceptions of RTI and focus on the fact that the law would “encourage accountability in government, promote good record keeping, reduce corruption, promote citizen participation in governance, bring about an open system where there is less mystery and also move Ghana to an enlightened society”.
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