About 120 designated Right To Information law (RTI) officers from Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been trained as part of the continuous efforts to equip officers to make the implementation of the RTI successful and to ensure efficient compliance of the law by public institutions.
The training was also meant to educate the designated officers on the RTI Act 989 so they are rightly informed on the legalities of the law and how as officers they are supposed to work within the law to absorb them from any liabilities and sanctions.
One of the key actors in the passage of the RTI bill into law and Lawyer Hon. Ben Abdallah Banda who is also the MP for Offinso South and Chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Committee of Parliament took the participants through the basic understanding and interpretation of the RTI Act.
Hon. Bandah informed the participants that under this RTI legal regime the law does not make room for officers to use too much discretion in handling applications and that all activities of RTI officers should strictly be within the confines of the law.
“Persons who deliberately infringe on the Right To Information law by denying access to information would be penalised” he added and urged RTI designated officers to adhere strictly to rules with respect to the RTI law to avoid being sanctioned.
Hon. Bandah disclosed that Section 3 of the Right to Information Act 989, Proactive disclosure; a principle that underpins the declaration of human rights, authorizes state institutions to publish some categories of information on their websites without necessarily being requested from the institution before they make available such information.
He advised the designated officers to always act within the laws when handling applications and make sure they always give responses to requests within the stipulated time.
It is the expectation of the RTI secretariat that after the training, all designated RTI officers would know how to handle applicants and their applications so they do not fall foul of the law.
Also officers would know which requests are classified as exempt under the law and the number of days officers are to work within to respond promptly to requests of applicants to absorb themselves from all legal sanctions within the laws that set up the Right To Information and above all be bold to apply the laws in all situations.