An information centre to help people requesting information from public institutions under the Right to Information (RTI) Law has been launched in Accra.
The Access to Information Support Centre, which is accessible through dedicated call lines ((0531323225), WhatsApp messages (0531323225) and electronic mails (firstname.lastname@example.org), was established by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) as part of efforts by the RTI Commission to reach out to everyone.
The centre will also provide guidance on how the public can request information or appeal decisions using the law and general information about the RTI Law.
The Executive Secretary of the RTI Commission, Yaw Sarpong Boateng, who launched the centre in Accra yesterday, explained that the platform would help his outfit to educate the public, particularly the vulnerable.
He said access to information should not be downplayed in any democracy, stressing that it empowered people to hold governments accountable.
The commission, he said, placed premium on a successful implementation of the law, hence the commission’s decision to open its doors to everyone seeking to make the law work better.
He commended the MFWA for helping to enhance public knowledge on the law through various interventions.
The Programme Manager in charge of Media and Good Governance at MFWA, Abigail Larbi-Odei, said since the passage of the RTI Law, the MFWA had implemented a series of activities to sensitise and promote public awareness of the law.
Tho activities, she said, included the publication of a Media Guide on the RTI Law and training for journalists, programme hosts and presenters on how to utilise the law for in-depth reporting and programming; training of over 150 local government officials made up of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, coordinating directors and Information officers from various assemblies across the country on their obligations under the law, among others.
She said despite these efforts, limited awareness and uptake of the law by the public remained serious challenges.
“We believe that this Access to Information Support Centre will provide support to the general public who need guidance on how to use the RTI Law to request information from public institutions.
“Let us remember that an informed citizen is an empowered citizen, and so we encourage the government and other civil society actors, including the media, to intensify public education on the merits of the RTI Law.
“It is when the public are aware of the law and its usefulness to their lives, democracy and governance that they will be better empowered to utilise it,” she added.