Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has promised that government will facilitate the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill this year. He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is committed to enhancing accountability and dealing with corruption in the country.
According to him, among the issues the government will pursue are amendment of the criminal code to make corruption a felony, rather than a misdemeanor as the law states currently, to ensure stiffer punishment for persons found to be corrupt.
Speaking at a Transparency International Regional meeting in Accra earlier today [Thursday], Dr. Bawumia said government will ensure a special prosecutor’s office to prosecute persons found to be corrupt.
“Our government has already made it clear that we will be passing the Right to Information Act. We will make sure a special prosecutor’s office is set up to prosecute corruption and we will amend the criminal code to move the corruption from a misdemeanor to a felony. These are just some of the actions we intend to implement this year,” Dr Bawumia said.
The 6th Parliament of the 4th Republic, failed to pass the Right to Information Bill, even after former president, John Mahama, appealed to them to do so in his last state of the nation address.
The bill has been in parliament since 2013. The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) Ghana, which has championed the crusade to get the Bill passed, has already tasked the new NPP government to as a matter of urgency facilitate its passage.
In a recent statement, the group congratulated the Attorney-General (AG) and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, and urged her to work with the President, Nana Akufo-Addo to ensure the Bill is passed “It is our hope that the AG will give priority to the RTI Bill and that His Excellency, President Nana Akufo Addo will ensure that the Bill is referred to Parliament as soon as possible, hopefully in his first hundred days.
The Coalition said it remained committed to working with the AG and all stakeholders to ensure the speedy passage of the Right to Information legislation in Ghana,” the statement read.
About the RTI Bill
The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
The bill was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was not presented to Parliament.
The first attempt at enacting the law on the right to information was made when the bill was presented to Parliament on February 5, 2010.
The Attorney-General on June 25, 2015 moved the bill for the second reading awaiting passage in Parliament. It will have to be reintroduced to the House for consideration.