‘Journalists Not Utilising RTI Act Effectively’

Yaw Sarpong Boateng addressing the dignitaries


The Executive Secretary of the Right To Information (RTI) Commission, Yaw Sarpong Boateng has disclosed that the RTI act designed to promote transparency and accountability from government and non-government organizations has not been effectively utilized by journalists since its passage by parliament in 2019.

Speaking at the forum to commemorate the first anniversary of the current Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) administration, Mr. Sarpong indicated that since the establishment of the commission to support journalists’ demand for the right information from institutions in the country, its outfit in 2020 received 50 applications, 289 in 2021 and 783 applications in 2022.

“Even though information demand has increased, with the current population of 30 million we fall short of 1,000 applications”.

Yaw Sarpong said, “I will blame journalists who led the agenda for the RTI law passage. The law must be used by journalists to make our system work”.

Additionally, he indicated that the RTI Act has the empowering ability to enable journalists request and obtain information from public institutions.

This enables them to delve deeper into stories to verify facts and uncover issues of public interest.

“In a situation where journalists in the request for information from these agencies are rejected, RTI is needed to provide the necessary information. But due to the system’s inconveniences journalists withdraw their application for information. Which is not encouraging,” he fumed.

Addressing the Commission’s setbacks, Mr. Sarpong noted that most of the applications received by the Commission from journalist especially were not responded to by institutions. Most of the applications responded to were rejected due to the non-existence of exempt provisions or that they are not public institutions.

He said the commission is currently in court to enforce the payment of administrative penalties pursuant to the non-compliance of the Act by the affected public institution for breaching the provision of the act.

GJA Commends Parliament

The GJA President, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour acknowledged the speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin for speaking on the poor condition of service to the Ghanaian media. He suggested concrete steps to better improve conditions of service and protection of journalists.

Mr. Dwumfour said his administration upon assumption of office has implemented many policies and programme designed to ensure the welfare of the Ghanaian journalist.

Some of the policies include a journalist support fund to address welfare concerns, including attacks against journalists, and increased lobbying for the freedom of the press.

Accordingly, he called on the government and non-government organizations to assist the GJA in maintaining democracy as the fourth estate.

BY Prince Fiifi Yorke