The leadership of Parliament has asked MPs working on the Right to Information Bill to work during the recess period to enable the house pass it when it resumes.
The Right to Information Bill was laid in parliament on the last day of sitting before it adjourned for a 6-week break.The Bill has been in and out of Parliament for close to twenty years, and if passed, it will enhance citizens’ access to public information.
The Bill has been referred to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the house.
Speaking on the floor of parliament, Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu appealed to the Committee assigned to pass the RTI Bill to use the recess period to pass the Bill.
“Mr. Speaker, may I implore that the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the house avail themselves during parliament’s recess to complete their work and enable the house deliberate on them. This would be a clear indication that government is committed to fighting corruption in the country”.
The Right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The bill as it has been drafted is to give 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 back and forth
The Right to Information Bill was first drafted in 1999 under the former president, Jerry John Rawlings. Various advocacy groups emerged to press for the immediate passing of the bill into law in 2002. The draft bill was reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in its 2008 and 2012 election manifestos promised to ensure the bill is passed. In 2010, the bill was presented to Parliament for consideration.
In 2011, the government signed unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative with a commitment to pass by the bill. 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 In October 2016, the bill was withdrawn and a replaced with a new one which was immediately laid.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 is no longer in parliament.
By: Farida Yusif/citifmonline.com/Ghana