Bolgatanga, May 18,  GNA – The Upper East Regional branch of the Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill has called on Parliament to as a matter of urgency expedite action on the passage of the bill that has been laid before it.
The Coalition made the call on Thursday in a communiqué issued at a round table discussion in Bolgatanga, and signed by the Acting Focal Person, Norbert Atia Atanga.
The meeting brought together Civil Society Organizations, the Media and other well meaning natives in the Region. It was to help participants discuss the concerns on the Right to Information Bill.
The communiqué stressed that  the absence of a specific law to enforce the right to information as enshrined in the 1992 constitution under article 21 clause 1 (f) significantly undermined the enjoyment of this fundamental human right by the people of Ghana.
It said its passage had been long overdue and therefore called on Parliament to use this time around as it resumed office to pass the bill into law to help consolidate the country’s democracy.
”The Coalition believes that if an effective law is passed, it will go a long way to consolidate the country’s democracy by promoting dialogue and mutual understanding and facilitate development by enabling all and sundry to participate in planning, monitoring and implementation of the development process.”
It further entreated the Joint Committee on Communication and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to come up with their report on the Regional Consultations conducted last year and submit it to the House for further deliberations on the RTI Bill.
The Coalition among other issues reiterated the need to include the chieftaincy institution as a public body which the current bill had excluded.
” The current provision on the exclusion of the chieftaincy institution as a public body contravenes Article 36 (8) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which states that chieftaincies exercise their functions on behalf of the public. The coalition appeals to the government to reconsider the current state of clause 65 of the bill reference to ‘government agencies’, which includes a Ministry, a government department, District Assembly or a local authority, a statutory or any other body corporate or incorporated, or a public office. This provision contravenes Article 36 (8) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which states that chieftaincies exercise their functions on behalf of the public.”
The communiqué entreated government to include among other issues a penalty provision in the bill because the current state of the Bill failed to answer the question as to what would happen if the custodian denied information to an applicant or deliberately provide wrong information.
”It does not contain any penalties for custodians who willfully obstruct the flow of information. The bill failed to provide for a speedy release of information in cases relating to life and liberty. All these among other issues not raised here make the Bill to fall below international standard”.
The Communiqué indicated that Ghanaians would not forgive President Mills and Vice President Mahama if they failed to honour the promise made to them by expediting action to get the RTI Bill passed into law as a pre-requisite for good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

GNA

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