Right to Information comes with responsibilities – Media Experts

Media experts, at a panel discussion in Accra, have called on the Government to be proactive and finalise debates and reviews for the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law.

The programme was organised by the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of the Blue Crest University College.

Mr Kwasi Pratt Jnr., the Managing Editor of The Insight Newspaper, said the quality of people’s lives was largely determined by the quality of information given to them.

He said when members of the public did not have access to information, it became difficult for them to participate meaningfully in decision making for their collective development.

He said information should not just be available to all but the means to acquire it should be equal for everyone to have a chance to contribute towards nation building.

Mr Pratt said in the quest to push for the enactment of the RTI Bill,  caution must be taken to know where to draw the line, and that should include which information bordered on national security or of public interest so as to prevent chaos.

He stressed the need to strike a balance to ensure satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Mr Kwasi Gyan Apenteng, the Chairman of the National Media Commission, said the right to information was not for the sole benefit of media practitioners, but for every taxpayer and citizen.

He said information was essential to national development and Ghana was not an exception, adding: “We should not view the right to information as an European thing but a universal phenomenon”.

He said other countries like France had passed the Bill and that having a system for the easy accessibility of information prevents the fabrication or spreading of false news.

Mr David Hecht, a former BBC Correspondent, said the world faced a daunting situation where the media had a difficult task of getting information to educate and inform the public.

Mr Ernest Owusu Addo, the Deputy Editor of the New Crusading Guide, said denial of access to information frustrated media practitioners and that had resulted in undercover investigative journalism to acquire the needed information.

Professor Nana Essilfie Conduah, Political Historian and Moderator of the discussions, said government and stakeholders should consider all angles of the delicate subject and come to an amicable conclusion as to the way forward.

He said the RTI would, undoubtedly, guarantee access to vital information to help the citizens make informed decisions.

Source: GNA

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