By Christabel Addo/Irene Estelle Akrong, GNA
Accra, April 16, GNA - The Coalition of the Right to Information (RTI), Ghana, on Tuesday appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to give his assent to the RTI when it gets to him to fulfil his promise of passing the bill into law.
The Coalition said it would be in line with keeping the assurance he gave the people of Ghana at his most recent State-of-the-Nation address, that as soon as the law was presented to him, he would give his assent to it.
Mr Akoto Ampaw, a Legal Practitioner and a Member of the RTI Ghana, addressing a press conference in Accra, said although the news of the passage of the bill about three weeks ago, was greeted with jubilation by all the various stakeholders, there were still some issues to be worried about.
He said there was still the outstanding matter of Presidential Assent and the preparation for the implementation of the RTI bill.
He said the Coalition believed that on the balance, the law was very positive and gives an assurance that regulations to it when assented into law could help address the concerns.
Mr Ampaw applauded both the Parliament and all other stakeholders who laboured to bring into being the RTI Law, but urged them to be further prepared for the long road of implementation, saying, the passage of the law was only the beginning of the journey.
“We understand that Parliament, particularly the Table Office and the Legislative Drafting Office of the Parliamentary Service have a lot of bills they are managing.
“However, we will entreat the Office to work expeditiously for the President to sign on,” he said.
Mr Ampaw said the Coalition has followed the deliberations in Parliament very closely and had captured diligently every amendment adopted by the House, so, “we expect nothing less than what has been agreed by Parliament on the night of the 26th March 2019 bar the usual non-substantive drafting refinements”.
He said the Coalition and its collaborators, believed that the bill when assented, would provide the necessary tools for deepening governance, promoting transparency and accountability in improving the delivery of social services.
He said the Coalition was committed to working together with all relevant state actors, including the Finance Ministry in putting in place the building blocks of the implementation of the law.
He said in the coming weeks the Coalition would be engaging with other members and constituencies across the country, and also their collaborators and allies, on the best way to move the process forward.
“We are under no illusion that the task ahead is an enormous one and we take note of the general penchant for not enforcing laws in this country.
Mr Ampaw said the tasks of implementation of the law would involve steps such as the building of an effective and efficient RTI infrastructure.
He said a culture that would ensure substantial pro-active disclosure by public institutions and relevant private bodies were needed to be put in place.
It would also require the drafting and passage into law of the critical regulations, which would give full life to the law; the designation of information officers and their training, which were key conditions for the realization of a truly robust and effective RTI law.
He said the law must ensure that persons appointed as members of the Commission have proven records of commitment and defence of human rights, understanding of, and empathy with international norms and best practices in the RTI regime.
There should also be effective mass education on the provisions of the law as well as the rights of the citizens, and also the provision of necessary resources including funding to make the law work.