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Coalition pleads with Parliament to pass ‘credible’ RTI bill

The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) Ghana, the Media Coalition on RTI and OccupyGhana (collectively known as the “Coalition”) released a press statement Sunday urging Parliament to pass the Right to Information Act, a monumental bill that would reflect the country’s 1992 Constitution stating “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.”

While the Coalition applauded Parliament for taking steps towards passing the bill, more needs to be done, they say.

“The Coalition commends the effort by this Parliament to act with urgency in ensuring the speedy passage of the RTI Bill following the re-opening of Parliament just four days ago,” the statement reads.

But growth does not come without growing pains. The Coalition is calling on members of Parliament to address two main issues.

First, the Coalition requests that amendments be made to Clause 13 of the Act, which exempts any information that reveals opinions that would intentionally undermine public institutions.

According to the statement, “the current draft of Clause 13 could be easily misconstrued to severely, if not completely, dilute the right to information.”

Secondly, the Coalition cautions against a 12-month transition and implementation period for the clause as suggested by Parliament. This is to eliminate any destructive consequences that could result, as seen in other African countries when transition clauses have led to non-implementation of the law.

“That is why it is important that if it is necessary to include a transitional provision, then it should be a reasonable transition period that clearly spells out what should be done and the timeframe for putting in place the necessary structures for the full and effective implementation of the law,” the statement reads.

The coalition said that in the coming days, they will request to meet with all Majority and Minority leaders, including the Leadership of the Joint Committee to provide more details.

“We wish to assure Ghanaians of our full commitment to the passage of a credible law.”

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