Pressure mounts on gov't to lay RTI bill; fight taken to the streets

Pressure mounts on gov't to lay RTI bill; fight taken to the streets
Source: Ghana| Myjoyonline.com| SOKA| Twitter: @TheSaintOswald
Date: 19-03-2018 Time: 10:03:29:am

A group of campaigners have hit the streets of Accra distributing flyers as part of campaigns pushing for the Right To Information bill to be laid before Parliament.

The campaign is part of efforts by the Right to Information Coalition to ensure the bill, which has been in and out of Parliament since 2003, is passed. The coalition last week asked government fulfil the President's promise and lay the bill before the House before Parliament goes on recess.

Five days before Parliament rises, it remains unclear if the bill will be laid.


Speaking to Joy News’ Maxwell Agbagba Monday, a member of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Gideon Nii Quaye, says his group has joined the campaign to force the laying of the bill in parliament before the House rises this Friday, March 23.

Emphasizing the need for the bill to be passed into law, Mr. Quaye said although the constitution guarantees citizens' right to information, currently people have to go to court to enforce that right, something he said is so cumbersome and costly it defeats the purpose of the constitutional provisions.

“I can go to the court but not everyone can, my grandmother in the village cannot go to court, many people are afraid of the courts…even some lawyers are afraid to enter courts,” he said.

“When this bill is passed, any political party can demand the true state of the economy and make campaign promises on that," he added.

The RTI law is expected to help citizens and Civil Society Organizations and the Special Prosecutor to fight corruption.

Programmes manager at Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) Mary Adda who has also joined the campaign, has said the president must redeem his promise to have the bill passed into law. 

"The president must do all he can to ensure that this bill goes to parliament, the people of Ghana will begin to take him seriously...and all the rhetoric accompanied with speeches on anti-corruption will be taken seriously," she said. 

The Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, during his vetting stated that “If we eradicate corruption at our ports alone, Ghana will not depend on any foreign aid."

And scores of people have argued that without the RTI law, the Special Prosecutor will be rendered powerless.

President Nana Akufo-Addo in his Independence Day speech promised that he will facilitate the laying of the bill in parliament before the House rises.

“After many years of hesitation, we intend to bring the Bill again to Parliament and work to get it passed into law before Parliament rises,” the President said.

The Right to Information Coalition has taken a cue from the promise and is mounting pressure on the government to get the bill laid before parliament rises on Friday.

“We understand that parliament rises on March 23…so the minimum for us is for the bill to be laid before parliament rises,” a member of the group, Dr Kojo Asante told Joy News at the beginning of the 10-day campaign launch.

Other members of the group including private legal practitioner and News File host on Joy News, Samson Lardy Anyenini have described the campaign as “claiming our birthrights”.