Francis Ametepey is the Social media and communication officer Young Reporters for the Environment-Ghana. He is part of Youth Advocates Ghana and was at the African Youth SDGs Summit. On the 27th March
Access to information is key to meaningful democracy. It ensures accountability, transparency and promotes an open government where citizens and the public are able to access information on services and public documents. Last week Ghana Joined the many other countries that have proven their commitment to democracy by passing the Right To Information (RTI) Bill into law (Parliament of Ghana, 2019).
The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999 in accordance with Ghana’s 1992 constitution. It’s purpose was to give citizens the opportunity to hold government accountable to ensure that there is a high level of transparency in their operations.
After 20 years of waiting, Ghana made history last week, finally passing of the bill into law after intensive pressure from Civil Society Organizations and youth advocates who pushed for the act passage. Even though the Government failed to fulfil obligations as enshrined in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative in several attempts, Ghana is now the 49th country to have adopted the framework on March 26th, 2019.
Right to Information and its impacts on National Development
The absence of the RTI law means there is no incentive for public institutions to disclose information. In this situation, Civil Society Organizations are unable to track resource flows and expenditure in order to determine how much of originally allocated resources reach its intended end user.
Moreover, without RTI, there is no way to track whether resources are used in the most economical, effective and efficient way. Presently, Ghanaians get almost all their information from politicians and the media. There is no effective means of verifying or legitimising the information that can ultimately hinder citizens’ effective participation in governance.
Basically, an uninformed population cannot engage in any objective political debate or make informed electoral choices. They vulnerable tor gross exploitation, abuse, and arbitrary rule.
The passage of the RTI Law is in line with the Global Goals Agenda 2030
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become de-facto universal development goals for countries all around the world. Significantly, the Goal 16:10 recognize the need for countries to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
Francis with the Global Goals
The relevance of the RTI law to Youth Advocates in Ghana
Youth Advocates across Ghana joined the campaign at all levels to advocate for the passage of the RTI Bill because of the unfavourable RTI regime.
Requests for information have been seen as an attempt to make Governments appear unpopular, particularly at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to the extent that some requesters have been accused of spying on Government. the RTI Law will empower youth advocates and ordinary citizens to be able to access information at all levels and expose them to better government transparency
As a youth advocate promoting the full and meaningful participation of youth in the SDGs processes as well as championing Open Governance, I strongly believe that the RTI law has strengthened youth advocacy work and will be used to support the struggle for meaningful youth participation in decision making.
Francis and fellow Youth Advocates with the Global Goals