19 February 2013

Ghana: CDD Holds Forum On Right to Information Bill in Kumasi

Kumasi — Journalists and Civil Society Organisations in the country have been encouraged to intensify the crusade for the amendment and subsequent passage of the Right to Information Bill, which is currently before Parliament.

The Executive Director of Youth and Child's Rights Development, Mr. Jonathan Osei-Wusu, who made the call at a forum organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), in collaboration with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), said it was only strong advocacy and participation that would ensure the immediate rectifications of the bill, to prepare the way for its eventual passage into law.

He said, at the moment, there were so many exemptions in the drafted bill, which if not amended, would pose serious challenges to media practitioners and other stakeholders who will be seeking to operate with the law after its passage.

Mr. Osei-Wusu said there were several considerations that ought to be incorporated in the drafted bill to ensure its efficiency, some of which include Maximum Disclosure, Timely Access, Fees Structure, Independent Enforcement and Monitoring Mechanism, Penalties, Implementation, and Record-Keeping, amongst others.

According to him, the passage of the bill into law will grant many benefits to Ghanaians, which amongst them, will include the regulation of the way information can be accessed, particularly, that which is held by government in all types of storage and retrieval systems.

He further indicated that the passage of the bill will help ensure the individual's right to access information concerning the governance their affairs in areas such as food, shelter, clean water, health care, education and equitable distribution of the resources that are available.

"The Right to Information Law will inform the individual about the whole range of government policies, decisions and activities needed to become more involved in the political and decision-making processes," he emphasised.

Mr. Osei-Wusu, therefore, noted that the CDD, in collaboration with Youth and Child's Rights and Development, decided to engage the media and CSOs through advocacy programmes, and explain to them the need to get involved in the amendments, and subsequent passage of the bill.

Mr. Victor Brobbey of the CDD noted that the organisation would continue to engage the various stakeholders and solicit their views and suggestions, as it continues to push for the amendments in the bill.

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