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24.03.2009 Social News

RTI is bulwark against corruption – Lawyer


A lawyer on Tuesday noted that the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law would serve as a bulwark against corruption and arbitrariness, which would secure social justice and the rights of the people.

Mr Akoto Ampaw, who is also a member of the RTI Coalition, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the passage of the RTI Bill would give voices to the people to participate in shaping society thereby promoting consolidation of democracy.

He said the Bill sought to promote socio-economic interest, define rules for settling conflicting claims and interest in ways that were beneficial to society in general.

He, therefore, called on civil society advocates, democratic stakeholders, media practitioners, traditional authorities and government functionaries to study the tenets of the Bill and input into discussions leading to its passage.

Mr Ampaw explained that the Bill sought empowerment for members and society at large through effective citizenship to check excesses of public functionaries and hold them accountable to the people.

The GBA member, who led a team of RTI Coalition members to organize a series of regional workshops in Sunyani and Kumasi to empower the public to make inputs into the bill, said the coalition sought to work to ensure the passage of a good RTI law that met international human rights norms than to rush and have a mutilated bill passed into law, which then became a serious obstacle to the right of the citizens to information.

Mr Ampaw pointed out that governments worldwide were never in any great hurry to pass a right to information law that provided for maximum disclosure and fully gave legislative force to the right to information.

“It is thus necessary, if we are to have an expansive right to information legislation that we generate the active involvement of civil society and their organizations so that the necessary mass pressure can be brought to bear on the government and the legislature to assure a right to information legislation that measures up to international standards and best practices.”

Mr Ampaw also noted that the right to information went hand-in-hand with proper systems of record keeping and efficiency in administration.

“RIT law therefore has the potential of giving impetus to the efficient and effective record keeping in our polity.”

He said in spite of the major reservation of the Ghana Coalition on the Right to Information about the current state of the Bill, it wanted the government to place it before parliament without further delay and that the necessary amendments would be made to it to make it worthy of Ghanaians' struggle for democracy, freedom and justice.

Nana Oye Lithur, Africa Regional Coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Office in Accra, said the RTI bill was derived from the conceptual and constitutional foundations of Article 21 (1) (f).

The regional workshops led to the formation of Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regional Branches of the Coalition on the Right to Information to serve as regional vanguard for the propagation of the tenets of the Bill to ensure that majority of Ghanaians participate in the process leading to the passage of the Bill.