Information and selected Public Relation Officers of a cross section of ministries departments and agencies have brainstormed on the use of Freedom of Information Request Filing Templates designed by the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding, CEMESP at its Benson-Lynch Street office.
The Center is also working on adapting a user-friendly request filing template for members of the public to minimize the constraints-evident in error prone requests making that leads to denial of information in certain cases.
Because the government is yet to appoint Information Officers in all ministries, departments and agencies the nine appointed pilot ministries and only one county based appointee from Bong County were targeted for this training.
Participants assessed the FOI Tracking template and described as useful to the job description as provided under the law. They also made recommendations to fine-tune the said request tracking template that has been projected as a tool to aid requesters in accessing information.
Carter Center Access to Information Coordinator Alphonsus Zeon used the session to present a draft chart as Information Officers procedural guideline that has been developed with the hope of being adopted by the government.
The participants suggested that advocacy should be made for them to operate under the office of the Independent Information Commissioner to avoid potential arm-twisting from their departmental heads.
The Friday May 17th engagement climaxed the National Endowment for Democracy, (NED) funded project that seeks to inspire effective usage of the law in terms of demand and supply of information.
CEMESP Executive Director Malcolm Joseph made power point presentation on: What is Freedom of Information and Why is it Important?
The center’s Board Chairman K. Abdullai also presented on the Key Features of the Freedom of Information Act 2010. The focus revolved around obligations of public institutions, Exemption clauses, complaints and appeal processes under the Act.
Suggestions made about the tracking template were noted by CEMESP’s Program Officer Albert Baron Ansu and the Information Officers appealed for a reasonable time to study the template with a view of making further input before it could be finalized and pretested.
CEMESP will publish and circulate a pilot research report on the status of FOI request and disclosure trend in selected ministries, departments and agencies surveyed earlier this year.