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RIGHT TO INFORMATION IS SIGNED AND SEALED: AKUFO-ADDO GIVES ASSENT TO RTI LAW

General News

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo finally gave assent to the Right to Information (RTI) Bill yesterday, May 21.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo finally gave assent to the Right to Information (RTI) Bill yesterday, May 21.

In March, Parliament passed the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law. It will be implemented from January 2020 and will provide for operationalisation of the constitutional right to information held by public and some private institutions. This, however, is subject to certain exemptions necessary and consistent with the protection of the public interest in a democratic society.

It also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters.

Assent

At a short ceremony at Jubilee House in Accra yesterday, the President said he was happy that the law had been passed. "I did make a commitment that when it is brought to me, I'll give my assent to it right away," he said.

"It was brought to me yesterday afternoon and I thought I should sign it in the full view of the Ghanaian people.

“I am glad this long winding parliamentary process has finally come to an end and I am happy that we now have a Right to Information Act,” he said.

The President said that when the law is properly applied, it will “provide a critical tool against corruption and enhance the quality of governance in our country".

“I want to congratulate the seventh parliament for its courage, sense of responsibility and commitment to good governance in passing this significant piece of legislation,” President Akufo-Addo also said.

According to the President, the law “should enhance the quality of governance of our country, and provide a critical tool in the fight against corruption in public life”.

President Akufo-Addo explained that the new law will come into effect in the next financial year because of the financial consequences of its implementation.

He said this is to give the Treasury the opportunity to make the necessary allocations to enable the RTI Act to be effective.

The information

First drafted in 1999, the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, after three reviews in 2003, 2005 and 2007, was finally presented to Parliament in 2010.

The bill has had a chequered journey through the legislative processes, going through multiple considerations and amendments, culminating in the House passing the much-disputed legislation into law on March 26 2019.

Controversy

Its passage did not come easy, with media and civil society groups putting pressure on Parliament to pass the bill into law.

The Media Coalition on RTI last year urged the public to wear “anything RED” on all Fridays and to post a photo of themselves on social media with the hashtag #RTIRedFriday to urge MPs to pass the bill.

Other civil society organisations which worked with the media coalition to push for passage of the bill included the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa Office, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Penplusbytes, SEND-Ghana, Civil Society Platform on SDGs, Alliance for Women in Media Africa and Ghana Trades Union Congress.