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Parliament begins consideration of RTI Bill

Parliament has begun the consideration of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill which has been before the House since 2013.

 

 

The bill which was ushered into its consideration stage on Wednesday is expected to be discussed clause by clause with all concerns debated and voted upon. The rationale for the bill is to give right and access to official information held by public institutions, private entities which perform public functions with public funds.

 

The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights. The bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.

 

The Members of Parliament on first day of the consideration stage focused on the difference between the right to information and right of access of the information. Members who contributed to the amendment of clause 1 of the bill noted that the right to information did not necessarily mean access to information, hence, the need to amend it for clarification on the procedure to access the information.

 

Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, said the proposed amendment of clause 1 was based on provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution which states that "all persons shall have the right to information " adding that right to access to any information in the possession of any public institution must be subject to the constitutional provision. "Mr Speaker I have seen the practice in this House where we have made verbatim reference to constitutional provisions that supports more of this," he said.

 

The MP for Old Tafo, Anthony Akoto Osei, in his contribution pointed out that based on the provisions of the constitution, right to access of information and the right to information were not the same.

 

The Speaker of Parliament, Hon Deo Adjaho, after further deliberations on the matter deferred the consideration of  the bill to Thursday and  referred the bill back to the Legal and Constitutional Committee of the House to file an amendment to capture the sense of the House with reference to clause 1, sub-clause 1 of the bill. He stated that the right to information had been provided by the constitution and that how to access that information was the subject matter.

 

“A person shall have a right of access to information or part of information in the custody of any public institution in accord with Article 31F of the 1992 Constitution,” the Speaker indicated.

 

The bill was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was not presented to Parliament.

 

The first attempt at enacting the law on the right to information was made when the bill was presented to Parliament on February 5, 2010. The Attorney-General on June 25, 2015 moved the bill for the second reading awaiting passage in Parliament.

 

Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah & Raymond Kwofie)