A judge at the Appeals Court, Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei, has questioned the rationale behind financial demands made on applicants for information from public offices.
According to him, the financial demands attached to the Right To Information (RTI) Law make a mockery of the measures in place for fundamental human rights and must be scrapped.
He was speaking at this year’s edition of the annual Lecture in Humanities at the Ghana National Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“A person who legitimately requires information but cannot pay for the prescribed fee would be denied his fundamental right to obtain information,” he told the gathering.
The RTI Act was passed in 2019 to operationalise Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution, which stipulates that “all persons shall have the right to information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society”.
The law gives people the right to access all sorts of information, apart from exempt information.
But one of the bones of contention has become the need to pay a fee for the information to be granted to the applicant.
Many experts have cited the move as unfavourable if the recently-passed law is to see any fruition.
For instance, last year, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) dragged the NCA to court for demanding a ¢2,000 fee before it would provide it information on the list of radio stations it had shut down.
But the High Court presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, ruled that the NCA has the mandate to charge fees for its services hence the order to MFWA to pay ¢1,500; ¢500 less than the initial amount demanded.
Speaking at the event on May 5, Justice Dominic Adjei described such situations as unreasonable and posed a challenge, especially when their purpose was educational.
He insisted that “the fees to be paid by an applicant who applies to access information for public consumption is unreasonable, and the provision of payment of fees should be repealed,” he added.
Monetising such a service, he believes, is not indicative of a democratic regime like Ghana’s.