Hon. Inusah Fuseini
The right to information is a cherished right and a formidable tool in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and as well brings transparency and accountability, the Minority Ranking Member on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of parliament, Hon Inusah Fuseini has said.
According to him, if implemented, the RTI law would give people, including the media access to public record, despite the fact that there would still be some limitations in accessing information that may be considered harmful to national security, friendly countries and privacy of someone’s life.
Hon Fuseini held the view, while contributing to the motion for the adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communication on the RTI Bill in parliament on Thursday April 26, 2018.
The RTI Bill was laid before Parliament on 23rd March, 2018, by Ms Gloria Akuffo, Minister for Justice and Attorney General, as an urgent Bill.
It was however deferred due to some procedural issues raised by the Minority.
However, when the House was reconvened on urgent matters including the Bill, the Committee recommended that, the Bill was not an urgent one and that it should go through the normal procedure of parliament.
The Report further indicated that, the joint committee has received several memoranda from stakeholders that required that due consultations be made on the Bill.
Hon Fuseini, who seconded the motion pointed out that, the Bill which was drafted in 1999, was not urgent in nature, hence the unanimous decision of the committee for it to go through the normal parliamentary procedure of gazetting and be considered after 14 days.
The Tamale Central lawmaker said, Right to information is not only a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights, but also a formidable tool to help fight corruption.
He stressed that, the RTI provisions when enforced strictly and efforts made to bring to light the necessary information, it would secure transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in the end discourage corruption.
This, the former Minister for Roads and Highways argued, there was no need for the Bill to be rush and pass into law, only to become a tool to obstruct national development and integration or to destroy peace, tranquillity and harmony among citizens.
The committee, he said have received enormous memoranda from stakeholders and those views must be look into before parliament assume the authority to pass the Bill into law.
In his view, the bill sought to promote two-way flow of information from the government to the people and vice versa and therefore should be allow for broad consultations.
Hon Gloria Akufo, Minister for Justice and Attorney General
The RTI aims to strengthen and safeguard the public’s right to know, especially in the backdrop of Article 21(1)(f) of the 1992 Constitution which explicitly recognized this right as a fundamental right.
The long-pending Right to Information Bill for over 10 years, is yet to see the light of day on when the house of parliament would adopt it passage unanimously.
Once it becomes law after parliament adopts or pass it and the president signs it into an act, a citizen would have to make a request in writing to a public body for information.
Portions of the bill stated that, any information needed to protect the life and liberty of any individual would have to be provided within some working days. It also specifies the type of information that would be exempted from disclosure.
Corruption is a form of unethical or dishonest use of position of authority for personal gain for which many people expressed the view that, the RTI law would further help curb the canker.
In the political field, corruption may linked to the abuse of power, embezzlement and bribery which causes a decision maker to deviate from entrusted policies for personal benefit.
Corruption on the African continent coupled with poverty have been re-echoed as a character trait by the western media for many decades.The passage of the RTI bill into law will help to discover many of such corrupt practices in governance and possible solutions to curb the canker.
According to the secretariat of the Right to Information Coalition (CRTI), Ghana, twenty African countries have made efforts to successfully pass the Right to Information (RTI) bill into law and this includes Burkina Faso which is the 7th in West Africa to pass the bill.
Liberia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone including Nigeria and Niger have all passed the RTI Bill into law in previous years as part of commitment towards accountability and transparency in governance.
Successive governments of Ghana, including the current government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have trumpeted their commitment to transparent and accountable governance.
The right to access information have already been granted Ghanaians, what Ghana needs now is a law that will spell out the modalities for enjoying this right.
Prof Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament
The RTI is recognised by the UN, the Commonwealth and African Union as a fundamental human right for transparent governance.
In accordance with the international conventions and treaties on human rights and in order to operationalise the constitutional provision, the RTI Bill was drafted by the government in 1999.
The draft was reviewed in 2003, 2005, and 2007 but failed to be presented to parliament for consideration.
On February 5, 2010, the RTI Bill was presented to the fifth parliament and referred to the joint committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications for consideration and report.
The Joint Committee did a nationwide consultation but could not present their report to the house nor review the problem clauses of the Bill.
The bill was at the consideration stage in 6th parliament, but after the elections in 2016, and changed of government, the Bill was reintroduced to Parliament on March 23, this year and was referred to the joint Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communication.
Sources:the republic news online.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba