The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill has asked Parliament to speed up the work on the Bill to enable the President assent to it as early as possible.
The Bill was passed in March this year after being in Parliament for nearly two decades.
A member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee and a Private Legal practitioner, Akoto Ampaw made the call during a media engagement.
“Even as we put together our plans for moving the agenda forward, we have the small matter of the presidential assent. If the President does not give his assent to the bill, all the work will come to nought.
“By law and following the third reading of the passage of the bill in Parliament, a communication will have to be sent to Parliament for his assent. We understand that Parliament has a lot of bills they are managing. However we entreat these offices to work expeditiously for the President to sign onto the bill.”
The Coalition has also called on the government to as a matter of urgency direct the various public institutions to put their records in order for easy implementation of the policy.
According to the group, this will be a major step to making sure that the law is well enforced when it comes into effect in 2020.
The group has also tasked the public institutions to put its affairs in order, prior to the law being enforced next year.
Speaking to the media, a member of the coalition’s steering committee, Lawyer Akoto Ampaw said: “While we have every reason to celebrate this important victory of democracy, transparency and accountability, it has to be emphasized that we still have a long way to go in establishing the following necessary prerequisite for the efficacy of the law in practice when it receives presidential assent.”
1. An effective and efficient right to information infrastructure and culture that will ensure substantial proactive disclosure in public institutions and relevant private bodies.
2 The drafting and passing into law of the critical regulations that will give full life to the law
3. The designation of information offices and their training which are key conditions for the realization of a truly robust and right to information law.These are the issues we expect the media to be monitoring
The RTI is supposed to be a fundamental human right guaranteed by the Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The passage of the Bill gives 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.”
The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999 under former President, Jerry John Rawlings.
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.
By: Marian Ansah| citinewsroom.com| Ghana