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23.03.2009 Social News

Parliament urged to expedite action on the Right to Information Bill

By gna

Mr. Akoto Ampaw, member of Ghana Bar Association, at the weekend called on Parliament to expedite action on the Right to Information Bill for the promotion of democracy, freedom and justice.

He noted that although the 1992 Constitution guarantee the right to information as a fundamental human right of all persons in Ghana, Government and Parliament had failed to ensure the passage of the legislation.

Mr Ampaw was speaking at an advocacy workshop on the right to information, organised by the Commonwealth Human Right Initiative (CHRI), an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The event that was attended by media personnel, traditional rulers, market women, representatives of NGOs and civil society groups in the region, was aimed at promoting better understanding of the Bill and to equip participants with advocacy skills on the right to information in Ghana.

Mr Ampaw said the Bill if passed into law would enhance record keeping and efficiency in the administration of the country.

He said “The right to information is a bulwark against corruption and arbitrariness in government and public life and will equally promote transparency in governance”.

Mr. Ampaw said it was an obligation for government to be pro-active in disclosing information to its citizens without waiting for any specific request.

He said “The nation has experienced the critical role freedom of expression has played and continues to play in our efforts to deepen democracy and accountability and we hope that the passage of the legislation will establish another legal instrument and political instrument to open up the process of governance”.

Nana Oye Lithur, Africa Regional co-coordinator of CHRI, said that the Bill entailed unhindered public access to information held by public office and private entities exercising public functions to keep the citizens informed on what government was doing on their behalf.

She said that the Bill was fundamental to the realization of economic, social as well as civil and political rights, adding that it would promote transparency, public accountability and empowerment of the citizenry in a democratic society.

Nana Lithur said that the passage of the legislation should be the concern of all Ghanaians “since information in our world today is power and those without information are powerless and marginalized in a democracy”.