Ghana civil groups demand passage of right to information

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A coalition of civil society groups in Ghana on Wednesday embarked on a “silent protest” to demand immediate action on the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) bill.

Some members of the RTI coalition, led by the Ghana branch of the Commonwealth Human Right Initiative, were seen in orange shirts with placards along selected streets in Accra in a protest to request President John Dramani Mahama to take action before the current parliament elapses.

The coalition seeks to impress upon the government to speed up work on the passage of the over-aged bill which has been in and out of parliament for over a decade.

The bill has been around since 1999 but despite four presidents it is yet to be passed into law, even though civil society groups continue to fight for its passage.

The basis for the bill is to give right and access to official information held by public institutions, and private entities which perform public functions with public funds.

President Mahama at a UNESCO conference in France this week lamented the delay in passing the bill, indicating that he did not know the progress of deliberations on it so far.

The president said the RTI would go down in history as the “legislation that has stayed the longest in Parliament.”

But the RTI Coalition in a statement indicated that President Mahama had not demonstrated strong commitment to the passage of the RTI Bill despite his party’s promises in its 2008 and 2012 manifestos.

Meanwhile, the Majority Chief Whip in Parliament, Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, has asked the coalition to stop piling pressure on the president, saying that parliament should be left to do its work without interference.

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