The Right to Information Coalition on Tuesday expressed concern about the delay in the passage of the Right to Information Bill. It said Parliament had announced that it was going to conduct a nationwide consultation on the Bill to get the public’s input. “But up till now this has not happened. Ghanaians do not want to believe that this was a pretext to buy time and frustrate the enactment of the Bill”. The Coalition in a statement issued in Accra therefore called on Parliament to proceed with urgency to hold the consultations which would inform the final text of the Bill before the second reading. “Ghanaians were reasonably optimistic about the passage of the Bill into law when it was tabled on the floor of Parliament on February 5, 2010. This unfortunately is proving a mirage?” the Coalition asked. “As Parliament commences work for the year, it is our legitimate expectation that 2011 will see the coming into force of the RTI Bill to help entrench democracy and ensure effective governance thereby improving the lives of the people of Ghana, citizens and non-citizens alike,” it added. “At the same time the Coalition calls on Ghanaian civil society and their organisations to study the provisions of the current Bill and submit memoranda to Parliament on those clauses of the Bill that are inimical to the right of the people to information as guaranteed by the Constitution. The RTI law is long overdue. Pass the Right to Information Bill without further delay,” the Coalition said. The statement said for 19 years since 1992 when the Constitution was enacted, the ordinary Ghanaian had been denied the constitutional right to information. “Successive governments have promised but failed to enact the required law (Act of Parliament) that elaborates the explicit platform and procedures for the people of Ghana to enjoy the constitutional guarantee which states that; “All persons shall have the right to information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”. This is simply unacceptable. It said after a long series of back-and-forth in the drafting of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill; which process was still incomplete, Cabinet announced in November 2009 that it had approved the RTI Bill and this was placed before Parliament. “After the first reading in Parliament, however, nothing concrete has happened, and the people of Ghana have no concrete legal procedure to access official Information, in spite of the constitutional provision,” the Coalition said. The Coalition said the right to access information was a pre-condition to good governance and the realisation of all other human rights. “Access to information offers the key to deepening democracy and quickening development that Ghana is seeking. It lays the foundation upon which to build good governance, transparency, accountability, and eliminate corruption,” it added. The RTI Coalition would therefore, like to remind Parliament of its promises to pass the long-awaited RTI law, during the Coalition’s Public March last year. But nearly a year later, Ghana was still without a freedom of Information legislation.
Source: Ghana News Agency