The Head of Political Section/Deputy Head of Mission of the European Union Delegation to Ghana has called for the proper education of the citizenry on the use of the Right to Information law in order to avoid abuse of the law.
Pieter Smidt Van Gelder in a televised National ARAP Dialogue on JoyNews stated that it was important to engage, educate and empower citizens on the proper use of the law and its significance to the nation’s democracy.
“And how do we do that? Well, now we have good access to information. I know it’s not always easy, the right to information requires responsibility at several levels,” he said.
According to the diplomat, the foremost responsibility goes to government.
“Because the government has to get it right and get the procedures in order, and the government also needs to make sure civil servants know how to use it,” he explained.
Mr Van Gelder said the general public are equally responsible.
According to him, should the citizens abuse the right to information law, it would defeat the purpose of the law.
“In my home country a law like this exists, and it was just the other day in the newspaper the case of a person living close to Rotterdam who had used his right to information not less than 3.4 million times.
“So he lodged complaints over 3 million times. So this is clearly an abuse of the right to information. It is very important that citizens know how to use it and do not abuse it as well,” he said.
And the final responsibility goes to the media and civil societies.
According to him, it was the responsibility of Journalists and Civil societies to use the law and check for illegitimate limitations of the law in order for needed changes to be done to ensure the smooth running of the law.
He said, “It is time for implementation, to make it practical.”
MP and Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee of parliament, Ben Abdallah Banda says information reaching him from the Ministry of Information indicates that since the passing of the RTI law in March 2019, only 10 people have exercised their right to use it.
He encouraged Ghanaians to exercise their right to information.