2 May, 2016 / By http://news.peacefmonline.com/
Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, has expressed disquiet about the long delay of the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.
Although he noted Ghana has come far in its quest for freedom of expression, he said the absence of a relevant and specific legislation on the RTI Bill “reminds us that we still have a long way to go as a country.”
He was speaking at a lecture organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) on Friday, April 29, 2016 in Accra as part of activities by the Association to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day which is tomorrow, May 3.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is; “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right,” whiles the GJA settled on; “Promoting Transparency and Informed Choices In Democracy: The Role of Right to Information,” as its national theme.
According to the NMC boss, the right to information was a vital component of freedom of expression which without it, good governance is incomplete.
He explained that the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana provides and defends, “our rights to enjoy freedom without any impediments,” but noted that this regime of democracy was being undermined by the absence of right to information legislation.
In his opinion, the demand for right to information by the public came as a result of government’s secrecy, indicating that claims to democracy cannot be wholly valid and consistent without guarantees for freedom of information.
Mr. Gyan-Apenteng reiterated that the right to information denotes the right to request and obtain information about people, especially those in public office.
That, he stressed, should include the right to study or observe any written documents or materials kept in public agencies for the purpose of authenticity.
He further stressed that the right to information is a vital part of society’s forward march into history, armed with knowledge and power “because information emboldens and empower us to claim all other rights.”
He added: “From the media perspective, the right to information is an inevitable tool in the performance of our work, but even more so in pursuing the goals of investigative reporting. We need to be able to play the watchdog role to ensure that public money is used not only for what is meant to do, but also used to advance good governance, development and social justice.”
According to him, with the right to information legislation in place, journalists would no longer depend on conjecture, rumour, leaks, and sources other than facts.
That, he said, would help make it unattractive for those who have the penchant of fabricating stories and writing all sorts of lies.
Instead, he said, it would help achieve professionalism and objectivity in “our reportage.”
For his part, Vice-President of GJA, Mr. Matthias Tibu, indicated that without easy access to reliable information, it would be difficult for Ghanaians to make informed choices concerning important issues.
According to him, the Association believes that “a free-flow of credible information is an asset to good governance. Mechanisms such as the right to information law, needs to be implemented, so that the media industry in Ghana can carry out their monitoring role both effectively and efficiently whiles being subjected to public scrutiny.”
The World Press Freedom Day was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1991, and the day is celebrated annually across the globe on May 3.
It is the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, which acknowledges that media pluralism and press freedom are essential to development.