Campaign on Right to Information bill kicks off

Pressure is mounting on government to pass the Right to Information bill.
The Coalition for the Right to Information (RTI) in conjunction with the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) will soon launch a campaign dubbed “pass the bill now” to encourage the government to pass the RTI bill into law.

The bill is aimed at improving transparency and accountability by allowing the public to gain access certain documents, records and extracts that reveal how government transacts its business.
The two bodies that have been working together for the early passage of the Right to Information bill also appealed to parliament to speed up work on the bill to be passed this year.

This declaration was made by participants at a lecture to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day delivered by Professor Kwame Karikari, the convener of the Ghana Right to Information Coalition, at the International Press Center in Accra.

The lecture was on the topic: “Delay of the Right to Information Law: Undermining the People’s Right to Know and Devaluing Press Freedom”

Passing the buck
Professor Karikari expressed regret that although work on the bill began through the initiative of the Media Foundation for West Africa with support from the Institute of Economic Affairs 15 years ago, the successive governments of Presidents Rawlings, Kufuor, late Mills and Mahama have failed to pass the bill for various reasons .

He commended the Parliamentary Committee On Legal And Constitutional Affairs for updating the RTI bill to include recommendations made by the RTI coalition and called for them to finalize work on it by presenting it to Parliament so that discussions on it could begin.

Prof Karikari said: “What is democracy if the people are kept in the dark about what goes on in government when the nation is drenched in all manner of anti democratic and unpatriotic acts by all manner of persons in high government and public office?”

He said that in spite of the relative media freedom allowing people to discuss issues on radio, television and in our newspapers and ask government officials to answer queries, it does not mean that there is openness in public affairs.
Prof Karikari explained that government officials have been keeping vital information hidden. He added that the coalition is not calling for just any RTI law, but the one that contains the provisions incorporated in the bill after the coalition had met to consider it with the parliamentary committee concerned.

The lecture, which was chaired by Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, chairperson of the Graphic Communications board.
There were presentations by Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, Dr Affail Monney, president of GJA and Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai, all members of the RTI coalition, as well as His Excellency Tirso Dos Santos, head of office and representative of UNESCO Ghana, who also sponsored the lecture.
Credit: GBC

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