The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Africa Office, in collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute, Ghana, has adopted the Right to Information (RTI) Training Manual for judges in the country.
The manual provides a theoretical and practical understanding of the RTI Act in executing its mandatory duties.
The manual has five models- the concept of Right to Information, the benefits of the Right to Information, the International and regional legal frameworks on the Right to Information, the principles underpinning the Right to Information and the obligations of public institutions in promoting the Right to Information regime.
Justice Kwaku Tawiah Ackaah Boafo, Justice of the Court of Appeal, speaking at the validation of the manual, underscored the importance of the Judiciary in ensuring the smooth and effective implementation of the Right to Information Act.
Parliament passed Ghana’s Right to Information Act, (Act 989) in March 2019 to provide a framework for the implementation of the Right.
Justice Boafo said the manual would provide the Judiciary with an understanding of the Act and the key principles underpinning its implementation.
The Court, he stressed, would be positioned through the manual to review decisions made by public institutions when requests were refused.
He said the manual would equip judges to play their roles effectively and that the proper implementation of the Act would consolidate the country’s democratic governance.
He said the RTI had gained international recognition because it was a human rights initiative and a tool that empowered the citizenry to demand accountability from the government.
Justice Boafo said the RTI legislation was not only unique to Ghana, but also across other countries, including Nigeria, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
He said since the passage in 2019, the Ministry of Works and Housing and other agencies had adopted the Act and designed the same for implementation.
He said even though there might be challenges in every legislation, there would be room for comparative learning for sustained development.
Justice I. O. Tanko Amadu, Acting Director, Ghana Judicial Training Institute, said the judiciary had the duty to ensure that state machinery and policies did not infringe on fundamental rights, including those of marginalised groups.
“A well-resourced and well-equipped, and informed judiciary is essential to curtailing failures by state actors in the discharge of their duties under the law,” he said.
Mrs Ogonna Okaigwe, RTI Consultant, who took the judges through the manual, said the purpose was to provide a theoretical and practical understanding of the Act in executing their mandatory duties.
She said the manual, among others, could be used for the training of judges and other institutions with the mandate to review decisions made on RTI applications.
The Coalition on the Right to Information Ghana and participants said the manual would facilitate greater participation in decision-making and ensure access to information in the country.