Politics Fri, 15 Jun 2012

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IDEG to organise a debate on National Broadcasting and Right to Information Bills

The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) is organising a debate to address the conflicting issues on the passage of Right to Information Bill and National Broadcasting Bill, and the need for the Legislature to ensure their passage into law ahead of the December polls.

A statement issued by Mr. Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow at IDEG in Accra on Thursday and copied to Ghana News Agency, said the debate had been scheduled at the Institute's auditorium on Monday, June 18 and would be attended by participants drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), development partners, academia, the media, private sector, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.

The debate is on the topic: “The Right to Know and the Power to Regulate the Airwaves: The Way Forward” and the panel will include Mr. Cletus Avoka, Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr. Emmanuel Kwasi Bandua, Member of Parliament for Biakoye and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa ( MFWA), Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, Chairman, Legal Committee of NMC and member Coalition on RTI and Dr. Doris Yaa Dartey, Journalist and Communications Consultant as the moderator.

The Right to Information Bill drafted 10 years ago and designed in accordance with Article (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution, gives the Ghanaian public the right to access official information which is held by a government Agency.

The bill which was proposed in 1998, has still not been passed for the past 14 years though the country has changed governments three times.

In a like manner, the National Broadcasting Bill that was formulated in 2010 by the Ministry of Information with support from the World Bank, has also not been passed even though when passed into law it would go a long way to regulate Ghana’s broadcast media, especially in this election year.

Lack of access to information is one thing hindering the free flow of information to the public and it is due to the lack of a legal basis for the people’s right to know.

"Operating behind a thick curtain of official secrecy, public servants and political heads of MMDA’s have displayed incredible reluctance to release to researchers, media practitioners and citizens official, information considered vital and in the public interest," the statement said.

It said even though Ghana’s Fourth Republic was considered to be one of the most democratic on the African continent, transparency and accountability remained a problem. Some public institutions remained a stumbling block to open and accountable governance.

"The freedom of expression and of the media guaranteed in the Constitution cannot be fully enjoyed without a legally protected people’s right to know. Hence the decision by CSO’s to promote and support the quick passage of both the National Broadcasting and Right to Information bills into law.

"The need has been felt that the in-consistency of the Ghanaian Broadcasting Media with internationally acceptable standards, principles and ethics of broadcasting could endanger national cohesion and stability."**

Source: GNA

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