Leave us alone to work on RTI Bill – Speaker to public, CSOs

Speaker of Parliament is fighting off pressure from the public and civil society for the House to speedily pass the Right to Information (RTI) bill into law.

Prof. Mike Ocquaye is urging them to “leave parliament alone” to work on the bill, describing as fallacious impressions that the House is not committed to getting the bill passed into law.

“Recently, while parliament is still working hard to pass the RTI bill, certain persons and institutions are acting as if we are throwing off on the bill,” he said as reported by Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent Joseph Opoku Gakpo.

“This is fallacious and I will be glad if the media will seriously correct this misimpression,” Prof. Mike Ocquaye said in his closing address as parliament went on Christmas break around 12 am on Sunday.

The Right To Information Bill was first introduced in the house about 17 years ago but it is yet to be passed. Previous deadlines given by the house to pass it into law before the end of 2018 has not materialised.

Right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Ghana’s Constitution and recognised as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.

The RTI bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society”.

Individuals, corporate organisations and CSOs have piled pressure on the current parliament to ensure that it does not pass the buck again but do all it can to pass the bill.

Updating legislators on Sunday morning, the Speaker said a lot of progress has been made in trying to get the bill passed into law.

Prof Mike Ocquaye gave a new deadline of February by which he hopes to get it approved.

“The bill has seen several years and several parliaments. And it is tricky in many ways. The budget and other important matters also came our way.

“We have done 80 percent of the bill already. And we will finish the bill fully I believe and professionally, on or before the end of February 2019,” he said,

“The public should please trust us and leave us alone for now to do a good job. We are committed to passing the bill and we are working towards it. No civil society should at this belated our jump on our backs and pretend as if they are the people who are interested in passing this bill,” Prof. Ocquaye added.

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