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General News of Thursday, 3 May 2018


Government criticised at World Press Freedom celebration for failing to pass RTI Bill

Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid play videoInformation Minister, Mustapha Hamid

Panelists at the World Freedom Day celebrations currently underway in Ghana have descended heavily on government for failing to attach seriousness to the passage of the RTI Bill.

Nnenna Nwakanwa, a senior policy manager at World Wide Web Foundation, expressed her disappointment in government for doing more talk than action, in passing the bill.

She noted, that a year was enough time for government to really show they were committed to the course by ensuring the passage of the RTI Bill.

Her sharp criticism of government was triggered by pronouncements made by Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, who told the gathering in his welcome speech that government was doing its best to ensure the passage of the RTI Bill which is currently in parliament.

He revealed that work has started on the bill and is expected to be worked on when parliament resumes from its recess later in May.

"In Ghana, to further in our exercise to deepen democratic governance and empower citizen, we will pass the Right to Information Law. The right to Information bill which Ghana has been grappling with in the last 17years is currently before the representatives of the people, the parliament of the Republic of Ghana and we believe that when parliament comes into session this may, it will be debated and passed then Ghana will have the Right to Information Law."

But the senior policy manager at World Wide Web Foundation reminded the Information Minister of a similar pronouncement the President, Nana Akufo-Addo made in 2017.

"Mr Minister, last year, at the Conference Center, Nana was there and he said that Ghana was on its way to adopting that law. It’s been one year now and it hasn't been done. Fulfil your promise. I will keep an eye and I hope by May, it will be done. The whole world is waiting for Ghana," she revealed.

Also at the event, founder of the MFWA, Prof Karikari indicated that the lack of political will on the part of most governments in Africa towards promoting access to information and free speech is a major hindrance in that regard.

Using Ghana as a case study, Professor Karikari stressed that the passage of the RTI isn't a priority for the political class of society.

Prof Karikari thus said he isn't shocked that a country like Congo will have an RTI Bill and Ghana with all its democratic credentials will still be battling to pass theirs.

"In Africa here, the main obstacle to Press freedom is still political. There's been so much progress since 1993 but it also seems that most governments are reluctant to go the extra step of opening up more."

"An example is what you heard here this morning, a country like Ghana with all its credentials. What is holding us back from passing a law like Right to Information which even a country like Congo which is nowhere near democracy has passed."

The RTI Bill has been on the drawing board for more than 17 years now after it was first drafted in 1999.

It was laid in parliament in March before they went on recess.

Ghana is the host for this years’ World Press Freedom Day which happens to be the 25th after its inception.

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