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Ghana’s Parliament finally passes RTI bill into Act

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The Right To Information Bill, (RTI) has finally been passed by parliament in Act. The Bill which has gone through the hands of six parliaments under the Fourth Republic, seeks to give the public the power to demand information from state institutions. It is also geared at fostering transparency and accountability in the governance process.

The Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was full of praise to his colleagues and the clerk’s office for making sure the bill saw the light of day.

The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, who happens to be the longest serving Member of Parliament gave evolution of the Bill and was hopeful government will implement it as soon as possible.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu was optimistic the RTI will improve governance. He urged government to adequately fund the operationalization of the bill

The Bill was passed following the completion of its consideration stage after several policy changes, amendments and months of rigorous debates on the Floor of the House.

 The RTI is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.

The bill as it has been drafted is to give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society.”

History

The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999 under former President, Jerry John Rawlings. Various advocacy groups emerged to press for the immediate passing of the bill into law in 2002 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in its 2008 and 2012 election manifestos promised to ensure the Bill was passed. In 2010, it was presented to Parliament for consideration.

In 2011, the government signed unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative with a commitment to pass the law. In November 2013, the Bill was formally laid before Parliament.

Former Attorney General, Deputy Dominic Ayine in 2015, moved the Bill for second reading in Parliament. In October 2016, the Bill was withdrawn and replaced with a new one which was immediately laid.

Following the dissolution of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic and the swearing-in of new Parliament in January 2017, the Bill had to be re-laid by the new government before work commences on it.

That was done and the bill has been receiving attention by the house but not without pressure from CSOs’ to expedite action on it.

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah gave the assurance that the Akufo-Addo led government is ready to ensure that the RTI becomes operational next year.

Speaking to the media after the passage of the Bill last night, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said a roadmap is in the offing to ensure this happens and that government is committed to resource the execution of the bill.

Some portions of this article culled from CNR

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