General News of Monday, 29 October 2018
The Media Coalition on the Right to Information Bill has threatened to boycott coverage of parliamentary sittings, should parliament continue to deny the bill the necessary attention which will lead to its subsequent passage.
The RTI Bill which has been laid five times before parliament since 2010 due to withdrawals and expiration has become the most talked about piece of drafted legislation in current times.
Although some Civil Society Organizations have demanded for its immediate passage, with President Akufo-Addo backing the call, the passage of the bill continuous to be met with some resistance.
Outlining some measures to be taken by the coalition should Parliament’s Business Committee neglect to lay the RTI Bill before the house tomorrow, member of the coalition, Elvis Darko said the group will also not hesitate to work with media personnel both home and abroad to display RTI Passage placards at all local and international functions attended by the Speaker of Parliament, Majority Leader, Minority Leader and President of the Republic.
“In tomorrow’s first sitting, we will be curious to find out how much consideration Parliament’s Business Committee Proposes to be given to the RTI Bill in this week’s business statement and for the rest of the meeting. We know the committee will be meeting early tomorrow morning as the order of the house requires and hence we call on Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and Mr. Haruna Iddrisu to ensure that their committee does the needful.
He added that they are also going to track all promises made by public officials on the RTI Bill, name and shame them for non-compliance to those promises.”
He further stated that, should these actions be ignored by parliament, constant picketing will be held in parliament by members of the coalition.
“We also plan to write to all the leadership of parliament to reiterate our message and we will see to it that our letters are delivered personally. We will then circulate our press statement to the Whatsapp numbers of all the MPs as our way of serving them notice.
After this, we will not hesitate to picket in Parliament House regularly and in some instance boycott the coverage of plenary and committee sitting should we see no clear actions of parliament towards the passage of the law.”
The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The bill as it has been drafted is to 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 subsequently drafted in 1999 under the former president, Jerry John Rawlings. Various advocacy groups emerged to press for the immediate passing of the bill into law in 2002.
In 2003, 2005 and 2007, the draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010 when it was later withdrawn for some clauses to be reviewed. Since then, efforts by several advocacy groups to put pressure on the duty bearers to have the Bill passed have also not yielded any positive results until now.