Samson’s Take – Pass RTI Bill First and Now

Samson’s Take – Pass RTI Bill First and Now
February 27, 2016
The Right Honourable Speaker
Parliament of Ghana
Accra Ghana
Dear Sir,
Pass The Right to Information Bill before The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill

I write on my own behalf as a bona fide citizen and on behalf of the Multimedia Group (MGL) to kindly request to know the status of the RTI Bill which is currently in Parliament awaiting consideration by the August House, and to urge that it is passed now.

It is recalled that following concerns raised by CSOs on the RTI Bill, the Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs reviewed the problematic clauses of the Bill and proposed amendments to the content of the Bill in line with the concerns raised by the Coalition of CSOs and the African Union Model Law.

I am aware also that on December 17th, 2014, the Select Committee tabled its report containing the amendments in Parliament and following the submission of the Committee’s report, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice (Mrs. Marrieta Brew Appiah-Opong) on June 25, 2015 moved the motion for the second reading of the Bill paving the way for discussions to commence on the Bill.

As part of the second reading, discussion on the RTI Bill following the AG’s motion commenced on June 30th 2015 and ended on July 24, 2015 and subsequently, the Bill was referred to the next stage in the legislative process – the consideration stage. On October 27, 2015, Parliament resumed sitting for the last quarter of the year 2015. However, the RTI Bill was never considered even though it kept appearing on the agenda of Parliament throughout that session.

The MGL, particularly as a media house, is concerned that given that this year is an election year, if the bill together with the proposed amendments are not addressed soon, it is quite likely that the passage of the Bill, with the amendments will not see the light of day before this Parliament lapses on 6th December 2017. Meaning that Ghanaians would have to wait for the Bill to go through the circus of having the Bill referred once more to the new Cabinet of the new government, for the legislative process to start all over again.

Please, give this Bill the needed priority and pass it before considering ‘The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill.’

Let is be your legacy and that of the Parliament you presided over that you considered the right of the people to demand information from government more or as equally important as the government seeking to monitor what citizens do in the bedrooms.

It is noted that Ghana has signed unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and has committed for the second time in its action plan to pass the RTI Bill. Strengthen our article 21 (1) (f) right to information before whittling down our article 18 (2) right against interference with citizens’ private communications.

Right Honorable Speaker, Ghana has been at the RTI Bill since 2003. Thirteen (13) years on, Ghana is still in the process of finalizing its draft RTI Bill for passage into law?

Please, pass the RTI Bill together with the proposed amendments before the life of this Parliament ends in December 2016.

Your Sincerely
Samson Lardy ANYENINI, Esq.
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