General News of Tuesday, 30 October 2018
A group of journalists rallying support to get the Right to Information bill passed were Tuesday prevented from entering into Parliament house.
The Media Coalition on RTI had planned to storm the public gallery of Parliament to put pressure on the legislators to ratify the bill, which was on their Order Paper.
But the police in charge of security there were given “strict order” to march them out because they were wearing branded T-shirts, a leading member of the group Elvis Darko told Efua Tieku on TV3 Midday Live.
“We are not going to shout or do anything,” he lamented, saying their aim was to “sit down quietly and listen to” parliamentary proceedings.
According to him, even known parliamentary staff wearing the t-shirts were not allowed to enter, but journalists who were not wearing the shirts gained access to the foyer and public gallery.
The T-Shirt has the group’s name on a red background with pictures of journalistic tools like book and pen, microphone and camera. Also inscribed on the shirt are #PassTheRTIBillNow and #PASSITNOW.
Elvis Darko felt it was “unreasonable” for parliament to drive them away when they don’t pose any threat to legislators, wondering why the MPs were “jittery and afraid” of their presence.
The RTI bill has been in and out of parliament for over 10 years with successive governments shying away from its passage.
The Member of Parliament for Tamale North, Alhaji Alhassan Suhuyini had earlier told TV3 the group should direct its concern to government to prioritise the bill if it wants the bill passed.
But Mr. Darko assesses the position of the legislator as a “confession” because the MP’s own government spent eight years in power without passing it.
“Governments are deliberately refusing to pass the bill,” he concluded.
Accusing the MP of being part of the problem, he said the bill is in Parliament so interested MPs can push it.
Nonetheless, he said the group will use all legitimate means available to it to get the RTI bill passed.