The Right to Information (RTI) Coalition has said its proposed amendments to the RTI Bill are not to blame for any delay in the passage.
According to a member of the Coalition, Dr. Kojo Asante, the issues they have raised with the Bill which is just a step away from passage are not new matters and can be resolved at a meeting within minutes.
“There is an issue with Clause 13 which we have made a small proposal to make sure it is explicit. I think this will not take a lot of minutes to agree on because these proposals were made several months before so I do not think anybody is delaying anything necessarily that we should all be worried about.”
The comments from the Coalition comes a day after the leadership of the House refused to accept blame for the delay in passing the Bill.
The Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim said the House has done its best to pass the Bill which is just a step away from its final reading on the Floor of Parliament.
He, however, indicated that Civil Society Organisations have asked for some changes to be made to the Bill before it is passed thus the further delay.
“The Coalition of Right to Information are saying that they do not want it [RTI Bill] to be passed the way we have done it so they are bringing other things. So the public should understand that it is not Ghana’s Parliament that is trying not to pass the RTI [Bill] but it is the public that is bringing new amendments to the work that we have done so far. Left with us alone, we have done what we should do. “
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Michael Oquaye made similar comments, saying “the Parliament of Ghana has done and will continue to do its bit” as far as the RTI passage is concerned.
The RTI Bill has been in Parliament for close to two decades but is yet to be passed despite calls from the media and civil society groups.
The passage of the Bill has delayed in recent times due to contentions over the period of operationalization.
But the House later agreed to operationalise it within 12 months after it is passed into law.
Coalition calls for further amendments to RTI Bill
Three advocacy groups bent on seeing to it that the Right to Information Bill (RTI) is passed into law had earlier demanded new changes to the Bill to align with the 1992 constitution.
The Right to Information (RTI) Ghana, the Media Coalition on RTI, and OccupyGhana explained that the technical committee of the coalition reviewed the amendments effected so far by Parliament and recommends to Parliament two main issues that deserve further review.
For the amendments effected to Clause 13, a joint statement from the advocacy groups noted that Clause 13 exempts information that reveals an opinion, advice, recommendation, consultation or deliberation made to any public institution because it is likely to undermine that institution’s deliberative processes.
It said while the coalition acknowledged the need to facilitate the effective functioning of the government and the State, any limits to the constitutional right to information must be narrowly constructed.
It said, unfortunately, the current draft of Clause 13 could be easily misconstrued to severely, if not wholly, dilute the right to information.