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Friday, January 21, 2022

Hundreds march to demand action on Right to Information

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The Coalition on the Right to Information and other civil society organisations Wednesday embarked on a peaceful march to impress on

Parliament to expedite action on the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law.

They say the process of passing a Right to Information Law has been unduly delayed.

A member of the coalition, Mr Vitus Azeem, told Joy News’ Evans Mensah that Members of the House have also been petitioned to amend certain contentious provisions in the bill.

Cabinet sent the bill to Parliament this week for consideration and passage into law but civil rights campaigners say the bill must not be passed in its current form.

They argue that a provision requiring persons desiring of accessing some information to pay a certain amount will defeat the purpose and essence of the law.

For them, cost should not be put on accessing public information because it will serve as a disincentive for people to seek information from public officials on how they are conducting public business. If anything at all, the cost should be minimal which appears not to be the case in the bill.

Mr Azeem, who is also the Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative also raised issues with the destination of complaints.

According to the Right to Information Bill, if a person fails to get the information he/she is asking for within a stipulated period, a complaint can be filed with the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

But that Mr Azeem believes is problematic because “the Attorney-General is a representative of the government so if the Attorney-General refuses to give us information, we cannot go back to” the same person to complain.

The campaigners want an independent person or body to receive such complaints and not a member of the government.

According to Evans, the march attracted massive support from the general public and described the march as extremely peaceful.

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