November 12, 2013

After nearly a decade of calls for the Right to Information (RTI) also known as the Freedom of Information Bill to be passed, the process to see its passage has begun as the Bill was on Tuesday finally laid on the floor of Parliament.

The Bill first reared its head in the Ghanaian public discourse since in 1999.

By 2003, the government had already drafted the first RTI bill to operationalize the constitutional right to information under article 21(1) f of the 1992 constitution.

This provision would suggest that Ghana has accepted, as a constitutional matter, the right to information enshrined in the constitutional document, and to all intents and purposes, the bill, when passed, will consolidate the rights of journalists and the public to access information from government officials and public institutions without hindrance.

Several Civil Society Organizations including the Media Foundation for West Africa piled pressure on both the Kufour and Mills Administration to show their commitment to the Bill by laying it in Parliament for onward approval, but that never happened due to reasons best known to those governments.

President Mahama recently expressed his government’s assurance and commitment to ensuring the passage of the right to information bill, adding that he will not waste time in giving Presidential assent to it as soon as Parliament pass the bill.

After Cabinet studied the Bill, it has presented it to the House for the necessary action on the document to commence.

Chairman of Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Committee, Alban Bagbin, announced that Parliament will be coming out with a notice to invite memoranda from all interest groups, adding that it is very important for the views of stakeholders to be included in the Bill to further improve the media setting and information floor in the country.

He however stated that it was unlikely that the Bill would be passed by Parliament this year, since issues concerning the 2014 budget which would be presented in Parliament on 19th November 2013 would dorminate proceedings in the House untlll it goes on recess for the Christmas festivities.

Kwadwo Anim/