The Attorney-General has granted prosecutorial powers to the Right to Information Commission (RTIC) to sanction institutions that refused to comply with the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989).
The prosecutorial powers were granted to the Commission in September 2022 through an Executive Instrument.
The Commission has, so far, imposed GHS1.3 million penalty on 14 institutions that refused to comply with its orders to grant applicants access to Information requested.
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, announced this in Accra, on Wednesday on the progress made so far regarding the implementation of the RTI Act.
He said the RTI Commission was fully backed by law to sanction institutions that did not comply with the RTI law and thus, urged the various public and private entities to be compliant with the Act to avoid sanctions.
The Access to Information Division of the Information Services Department had, so far, received over 1,000 requests from the public since the law became operational in 2020.
The requests mainly came from media practitioners, civil society organisations, lecturers and students in the tertiary institutions.
The Greater Accra Region topped the number of requests made so far with 89 percent, followed by the Ashanti Region with nine percent, 1.28% by Bono Region, 0.13% by Oti Region, 1.28% by Weston Region and 0.38% by the Central Region.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said two satellite offices of the Access to Information Division of the Information Services Department would be opened in Kumasi and Sunyani this year to enhance access to information across the country.
Additionally, an Online Revords Management System would be operationalised to enable applicants to apply for Information online as well as to increase efficiency.
“There has been appreciable level of public education and sensitization by both the Access to Information Division of the ISD and the RTI Commission, and we need more of such sensitization to increase public awareness about the RTI law,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah said.
For the RTI law to be effective, he said, three organs including the Access to Information Division of the ISD, the public and the Regulatory body (RTI Commission) should work together to achieve the objectives of the Act.
The Minister said the effective use of the RTI Act would further strengthen the country’s democracy.
The Right to Information law was passed by Ghana’s Parliament on March 26, 2019 and received Presidential assent on May 21, 2019.
The law became operational on January 1, 2020, to enable the citizens to hold government and all public institutions accountable and ensure a high level of transparency in governance of the country.