‘I’ll support passage of RTI Law’

Ambassador of the United States of America to Ghana, Robert Porter Jackson, says that if he was left with to choose between supporting the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) bill and the legalisation of homosexuality, he would choose the former.

According to him, the Ghanaian media and citizens right to freely access information was very dear to his heart but wondered why it had taken more than a decade and still the bill had not been passed.

The RTI bill and the debate on homosexual legalisation are two critical and topical issues, which have been trending for the past ten years, since the administration of the late President, Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills.

Majority of Ghanaians are strongly against the passage of any law that would legalise homosexuality. But the same cannot be said about the RTI bill, which has received huge endorsement from citizens across the whole country and key foreign nationals including the US Ambassador.

But the unnecessary delays by the two previous parliaments and cabinets, the RTI bill would have been passed into a law long ago to serve the purpose for which it was being advocated.

At a dinner last Sunday with selected journalists in Tamale, Mr Jackson, who responded to questions including one on the passage of the RTI bill and legalisation of homosexuality, said it was important that Ghana passed the RTI bill considering the fact that the country was going to host this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

“I have been very outspoken about the importance of the RTI bill. Ghana is going to be the host of World Press Freedom Day in May this year. I believe that it will be fantastic for Ghana to pass the RTI bill to show that it is truly serious about press freedom,” Mr Jackson noted.

On homosexuality, the American Ambassador said: “We’re not promoting homosexuality and I recognise that culturally, it’s very sensitive. That said, I believe that every human being has the same rights, whether you’re straight or gay I think you have the same rights….and personally, I believe that people are born gay. I don’t think it is a choice…. but am I trying to force Ghana to legalise? No, I’m not… but I very much will like to say right to information will get my support,” he said.

Public Affairs Counsellor of the US Embassy in Ghana, Rob Quiroz, told journalists about opportunities that were available for them to tap into, especially in the areas of exchange programmes and sponsorships for training.

“….our doors are open to you for any ideas that you have….there may be some proposals that you have that we can sponsor if they are about building capacities for young ones…so reach out to us anytime,” Mr Quiroz opined.

There were varied issues including security, bilateral relations between Ghana and America and among others that were discussed at the dinner with the US Ambassador.

Ambassador Robert Jackson answered questions bordering on the Gitmon2 prisoners; US government investment in education, agriculture and other socio-economic empowerment programmes being implemented in northern Ghana.



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