Group raises red flag over RTI Bill

The Right to Information Coalition has raised red flag over some clauses in the Right to Information (RTI) Bill which is currently at the consideration stage in Parliament.

According to the Coalition, “some seven clauses in the current Bill which they have identified are problematic both legal and governance”.

Addressing participants at a forum dubbed: “From Citizens to Parliament on the RTI” in Accra last Monday, Ms Mina Mensah of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) revealed that submissions made by the Coalition for the amendment of some clauses during stakeholder engagements, were  disregarded.

“We are astonished to say the least that most of the inputs we made during the stakeholder engagement put together by Parliament are missing in the report that the Joint Committees on Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications has presented to parliament that is why we are here to find a way to deal with these ‘problematic clauses’ before the Bill is passed”, she added.

According to her, their concern had been having  access to information but “it  appears  the new bill does not have  that”.

Citing Clause 5 as an example, she said there was a blanket exemption of access to information to institutions that are associated to the Office of the President.

Explaining further, Ms Mensah indicated that “what the Bill seeks to do, for instance, with the report that is before parliament, is to say, for instance, that information concerning Ministry of Special Development or Zongo and Inner City Development is not accessible to the public because it operates under the Office of the Presidency”.

She emphasised that “there  are several of such clauses and this will not help us”.

Meanwhile a governance expert, Dr Eric Oduro-Osae in his presentation on the topic “Implication of problematic clauses in the current Bill, the Governance perspective” said the Bill in its current form lacked  decentralization.

According to him,  failure on the  part of drafters to include checks and balances in the Bill was very worrying.

Dr Oduro-Osae therefore called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to factor in checks and balances in the Bill before it is  passed into an Act.

Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

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