5 June 2018

Ghana: RTI Law Will Consolidate Ghana's Democracy

The Chairman of the Right to Information Coalition, Mr Seth Abloso has called on Ghanaians to rally around the campaign to get the Right to Information Bill passed in order to consolidate Ghana's democracy.

Mr Abloso argued that it is impossible to run a democracy without access to information because the citizenry and government itself need information to inform decisions. He said the RTI bill is a development bill and has the potential to uplift Ghana's democracy when passed.

"This fight is a fight to consolidate democracy in this country. Particularly for the media because the media is the eye and the ear of the society... and for those who have no voice, it is the media that amplifies their voices, "Mr. Abloso said while addressing journalists in Accra on Tuesday.

The event was part of activities by the RTI Action Campaign to educate the public on the bill and also to mobilize public support for its passage before the end of this year.

He bemoaned, "Sometimes I fear if this democracy can be sustained because of the endemic corruption... that is why we need the RTI to provide a beacon of light so that corruption cannot hide anywhere."

According to him, there is the need for the media in particular to rise to the challenge in order to deal with the growing incidence of corruption in the country.

The RTI Bill has been on the drawing board for more than 17 years now. It was laid in Parliament in March this year before the House went on recess.

Right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed under the constitution and is recognised as a right by international convention on human rights.

Ghana's choice of democratic governance entails an active participation by all in the governance of the country. In this participatory democracy the right to information is particularly relevant. It is important to ensure good governance, it is only when those who are to participate in governance are well informed that they can contribute meaningfully to governance.

In a review of the RTI 2018 Bill, the Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Dr Kojo Asante, stated that the RTI bill is a bill for the media and one that could propel development in this country. Dr Asante said the law would revolutionise the record keeping and management of information in Ghana.

According to him, when passed, the law will place an obligation on institutions to within 12 months from the date of the coming into force "compile and publish up-to-date information in the form of a manual" of information to be accessed.

"For me, this is the game-changer, this law now will require that agencies generate certain types of information, keep them, manage them so that we can have access to them," he explained.

Panelists at the World Freedom Day celebrations which was held in Accra recently criticized government for failing to attach seriousness to the passage of the RTI Bill.

Nnenna Nwakanwa, a senior policy manager at World Wide Web Foundation, expressed her disappointment in government for doing more talk than action, in passing the bill.

She noted, that a year was enough time for government to really show they were committed to the course by ensuring the passage of the RTI Bill.

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