I Donít Know Where The RTI Bill Is Ė Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama has lamented the delay in the passing of the Right to Information Bill, indicating that he does not know the progress of deliberations on the bill so far.

“We have put in legislation aside from the constitution to guarantee access to freedom of information. I must say, unfortunately, it will go down in history as the legislation that has taken the longest in parliament. Cabinet approved it, we submitted it to parliament… I do not know where it is,” he told dignitaries at a conference in Paris organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on September 26.

Mr Mahama who was speaking on the role of access to information in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noted that the Bill “has been at the Committee level, the Committee decided to go round and consult with some saying it is too liberal. Others too are saying it is too tight and so parliament is still working on it”.

He was, however, optimistic about its completion for citizens to have a legal basis for demanding information.

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

Meanwhile, a group calling itself RTI Coalition, Ghana, issued a statement prior to Mr Mahama’s address at the conference indicating: “President Mahama has not demonstrated strong commitment to the passage of the RTI Bill, despite his party’s promises in their 2008 and 2012 manifestos.”

“The RTI Coalition believes the selection of President Mahama to speak on such a day… presents an opportunity for the president to make concrete commitments on the passage of an effective and efficient RTI legislation before the current Parliament elapses in 2017.”