Politics

RTI Bill to be passed next week Tuesday – Kyei Mensah Bonsu

Barring any last minute hitches, Parliament will pass into law the Right To Information Bill next week Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

This new assurance was given by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

According to him, the Minister sponsoring the Bill has indicated intentions to take it through a second reading stage.

It is the expectation of many that this new phase of consideration will incorporate fresh proposals from civil society organizations.

Answering a question on the Bill in Parliament, the Majority Leader was emphatic with his latest promise on the passage of the Bill.

His promise comes a day after Parliament had indicated that it was not to blame for the delay for the passage of the Bill.

The Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, said the House had done its best to pass the Bill which is just a step away from its final reading on the floor of Parliament.

He, however, indicated that Civil Society Organisations have asked for some changes to be made to the Bill before it is passed thus the further delay.

The RTI Coalition subsequently responded, saying its proposed amendments to the RTI Bill are not to blame for the delay.

According to a member of the Coalition, Dr. Kojo Asante, the issues they had raised with the Bill which is just a step away from passage, are not new matters, and can be resolved at a meeting within few minutes.

“There is an issue with Clause 13 which we have made a small proposal to make sure it is explicit. I think this will not take more than minutes to agree on because these proposals have been proposed several months before so I do not think anybody is delaying anything necessarily that we should all be worried about.”

The RTI Bill has been in Parliament for close to two decades but is yet to be passed despite calls from the media and civil society groups.

The passage of the Bill has delayed in recent times due to contentions over the period of operationalization.

The House and advocates are torn over whether to operationalise it within 12 months or as soon as it is passed into law.

Coalition calls for further amendments to RTI Bill

Three advocacy groups bent on seeing to it that the Right to Information Bill (RTI) is passed into law had earlier demanded new changes to the Bill to align with the 1992 Constitution.

The Right to Information (RTI) Ghana, the Media Coalition on RTI, and OccupyGhana explained that the technical committee of the coalition reviewed the amendments effected so far by Parliament and recommends to Parliament two main issues that deserve further review.

For the amendments effected to Clause 13, a joint statement from the advocacy groups noted that Clause 13 exempts information that reveals an opinion, advice, recommendation, consultation or deliberation made to any public institution because it is likely to undermine that institution’s deliberative processes.

It said while the coalition acknowledged the need to facilitate the effective functioning of the government and the State, any limits to the constitutional right to information must be narrowly constructed.

It said, unfortunately, the current draft of Clause 13 could be easily misconstrued to severely, if not wholly, dilute the right to information.

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