SEND-Ghana has organized a workshop for civil society groups in Wa on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill as part of GII Consortium district level campaign activities to deepen the knowledge of citizens on the Bill.
The exercise sought to sensitize the public on the provisions of the Bill and revive communal spirit at the district level aimed at mobilizing support towards swift passage of the Bill into law before close of 2018.
It also intended to educate citizens on the law making process to create opportunities and an enabling environment for stakeholders to raise questions and debate relevant issues regarding the RTI Bill in public forums.
The workshop was attended by several journalists, traditional authorities, National Commission for Civic Education, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), women groups, Persons with Disabilities, health officials, and assembly members among others.
Participants declared their support for the campaign; they raised their hands simultaneously and penned down their names to symbolize their resolve to back the campaign for lawmakers to pass the over two decades old bill into law.
Mr Bashiru Jumah, the Programme Officer of SEND-Ghana, said the ADISS Consortium and the RTI Coalition in February 2018 launched the campaign – RTI Action Campaign – to put the Bill on the front burner of policy and to secure its passage this year.
Civil society organisations have been advocating for passage of Ghana’s RTI Bill drafted in 2002 for more than 17 years in an effort to get successive governments pass the Bill but to no avail, he said.
In 2016, the 6th Parliament through the Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs reviewed the “problematic clauses” following proposals made by the RTI Coalition and other stakeholders, but the lawmakers did not pass the Bill before parliament tenure lapsed in January 2017.
Mr Jumah said the district level engagement is to inform citizens about the state of the 2018 Bill which has now been shared with Parliament and to seek grassroots support to ensure that it was quickly passed into law for Ghanaians to reap its benefits.
Mr Sebastian K. Zem, the Upper West Regional Deputy Chief Investigator at CHRAJ, said the RTI would serve as a powerful means for securing social justice and rights of Ghanaians.
RTI law would enhance probity and accountability as well as facilitate proper record keeping and boost efficiency in administration, particularly in the public service, he added.
The Information law when passed would also help in the fight against widespread corruption and arbitrariness in government circles and therefore pave way for full and unfettered participation of citizens in the governance process.
Naa Robert Loggah, a retired teacher and chief, told the participants to hold themselves as ambassadors for the speedy passage of RTI Bill into law by spreading the information on the need for its passage.
The workshop was steered by SEND-Ghana and implemented by the Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening (ADISS) Consortium and the RTI Coalition with funding support from the USAID.
The campaign covered Wa Municipal, Lawra Municipal, Sissala East Municipal and Nadowli/Kaleo district