Feb 19, 2014 at 1:30am
Human Right Experts Say Information Bill If passed In Current Form Will Obstruct Access To Information
Human Rights experts argue that if the right to information bill is passed into law in its present state, it will only serve as an obstruction to access to information.
This in their view will only re-enforce the system of opaqueness and secrecy in governance.
Speaking at a forum in Accra, a member of the Coalition on the Right to information Ghana of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Akoto Ampau, said the bill as it stands does not measure up to international standards.
He said the exemptions provided for in the bill only serve to insulate government officials from being accountable to the people they serve.
He therefore called on all stakeholders to bring the necessary pressure to bear on Parliament to do the right thing. The RTI Bill has been going back and forth among the executive, civil society organisations, and agencies, for about 13 years now, but still it is not a good one, said Professor Kwame Karikari, Co-Chairman of the Coalition.
Prof Karikari said it was time Parliament scrutinised the Bill to connect to the daily lives of the people and their right to development.
He called on the Public Archives and Administration Department of Ghana, to begin training its staff nationwide, and formulate proper record-keeping policies, since these are key ingredients to the successful implementation of an effective RTI Law.
Professor Karikari allayed the fears of politicians, saying, 'you have nothing to fear, since the public only need the information to be able to contribute effectively to national development.'
Ms Mina Mensah, Head of CHRI; Secretariat for the Coalition, explained that citizens required information on health, tax, agriculture, human rights, voting, and many more to empower them.
She said access to information was not meant to bastardize government, but to inform the populace about what was really happening in government circles.