THE PASSAGE OF RTI BILL UNDER CERTIFICATE OF URGENCY

The news that Parliament is going to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, 2016, under the Certificate of Urgency, cannot pass without comment.

This is news that must gladden the hearts of advocates for the RTI Bill to be passed into law.

The bill, which was drafted in 1999, has gone through several reviews through 2003-2005, but stayed on the shelves, and did not go to Parliament for passage.

However, in February, 2010, the bill, which seeks to ensure transparency and accountability in governance, was presented to the fifth Parliament.

Unfortunately, the bill was not finalised before the end of the term of that Parliament.

Since then, various efforts, including agitations by Coalition on Right of Information Ghana, the Ghana Journalists Association and other civil society groups put pressure on both the government and Parliament to work towards the passage of the bill.

Civil society groups and all well-meaning Ghanaians must be excited about the news, considering the fact that we are just a few days away from the passage of the bill into law.

Already, President John Mahama his given full assurance that he will not hesitate to sign the bill into law, if it is placed on his table.

The Times and other media practitioners fully support Parliament in its efforts to pass the RTI Bill under a certificate of urgency, because the RTI law is long overdue.

The bill, which is about 17 years old is long overdue and should be passed immediately.

We are grateful to Parliament that it has taken the decision to finally pass the bill, which to many, will go a long way to ensure accountability in governance in the country.

By passing it into law, Ghana will be following the international conventions on human rights and operationalise the constitutional provision on the RTI, which states that “all persons have the right to information subject to such qualification and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.

It will also afford the public the opportunity to partake in policy formulation and other decision making processes, as well as empower citizens to hold public officials and institutions accountable for their actions and inactions to ensure that their interest is protected.

We are hopeful that the process leading to the passage will be less acrimonious and non-partisan to ensure that this bill is indeed passed.

Ghana will be the ultimate beneficiary.

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