Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has called on Parliament to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill before it goes on recess on December 22, 2018.
Expressing their displeasure as to why the RTI bill has not been passed yet in Parliament after several decades, the party said the unwillingness of the legislature to pass the bill has resulted in the rise of false information and the promotion of party propaganda above facts and truths.
“Without access to information, our democracy cannot be meaningful. False information gives rise to wrong decisions and this only festers backwardness and the promotion of party propaganda above facts or truths,” the PPP noted in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Murtala Mohamed.
According to members of the PPP, as the world celebrates UN’s 70th anniversary of universal human rights, the Akufo-Addo-led administration and Parliament must, as a matter of urgency, take into consideration the rights of citizens in the country and pass the RTI bill into law.
“We call on the current Parliament and the NPP administration which holds a commanding majority, to use its majority wisely and pass the right to information bill before Parliament goes on recess this December 2018,” the statement further noted.
They further commended the media for their efforts in the fight to pass the RTI bill into law and called on government to protect journalists in the country as they have been victims of assaults in the hands of security personnel and politicians.
“We also like to acknowledge the efforts our media has made in deepening our democracy, especially their recent open fight for the passage of the right to information bill. It is, however, sad to note that some of them have been victims of violence in the course of performing their duty. It is even sad to note that the state has not been powerful enough to protect these journalists from powerful political parties and powerful interest groups. We call for an end to all forms of violence against journalists and against free speech. Our rights and freedoms of expression are inalienable and cannot be qualified with any excuses or reasons,” the party added.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Majority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah- Bonsu, has given the assurance that Parliament would pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill before the end of the session on Saturday, December 22, 2018.
The RTI bill is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognised as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The bill, as it has been drafted, is to also give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that, “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.”
Successive governments have, however, failed to ensure its passage despite several assurances.
The RTI Media Coalition has emerged to push for the passage of the RTI Bill, and has been expressing concerns over frustrations from some legislators with their attempts to ensure the bill is passed.
According to the coalition, only 30 to 50 MPs are in the chamber anytime the RTI Bill is up for consideration.
Civil society organisations that are working with the RTI Media Coalition to push for the passing of the bill include the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa Office, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), PenPlusBytes, SEND-Ghana, Civil Society Platform on SDGs, Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) and Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC).