The Right To Information Bill should have been passed into law a long time ago, former Attorney General Dr Yao Obed Asamoah has said.
The Bill, when passed, will enable citizens have access to information regarding public institutions as well as private institutions that do business of any sort with government institutions.
This year marks 22 years since the first RTI Bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA.
It also marks 16 years since the executive arm of government, in 2002, drafted the first RTI Bill. The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid before Parliament until February 5, 2010.
President Nana Akufo-Addo recently said at the 61st Independence anniversary on 6 March that he will ensure the current meeting of parliament, which is billed to rise on Friday, 23 March, passes the bill.
The bill has been sent to parliament after Cabinet approved it, but with just two days to the rising of parliament, it is still unclear if the president’s promise would be fulfilled.
Private legal practitioner Samson Lardy Anyenini is currently leading the Action Campaign Group to mount pressure on the executive and legislature to pass the Bill.
Speaking on the delayed passage of the bill, Dr Asamoah told Accra-based Starr FM on Wednesday that: “I really quite frankly don’t understand why it’s taking so long to pass this bill, we should have passed it by now”.
The former Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) surmised that the bill’s passage has been stuck in the works due to apprehension by politicians that its usage could hurt them.
“…I think some governments are sort of scared of the situation whereby people can be passing information which you cannot stop. Because once you have that the average citizen will be entitled to certain types of information within the government machinery. It’s not just the NDC, for example, that has been reluctant to pass it, the NPP has been reluctant to pass it, too, but I hear now they’ve sent the bill to parliament – the cabinet-approved version has gone to parliament – and they want to pass the bill before parliament rises, but parliament is supposed to be rising on the 23rd, I don’t see how they can do that, so maybe they are not being sincere”, he said.
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