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MFWA urges speedy passage of the Right to Information law

(MFWA/IFEX) - Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is happy that after a long delay in the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, there appears to be hope on the horizon as the Bill is being considered by cabinet for onward transmission to Parliament.

The Ghana News Agency (GNA) quoted Ebo Barton-Oduro, Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as saying: "The time for the enactment of the RTI Bill is now," and "the government is determined to pass the Bill into law within the shortest possible time." The Deputy Minister stated that the government acknowledges the people's right to access information as an essential prerequisite for an effective and functional democracy as stipulated in Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

MFWA, as a member of the RTI coalition, could not agree more with the minister's assertion as the passage of the Bill would not only consolidate the gains made in advancing democracy but also strategically place Ghana as a beacon of democracy on the African continent.

RTI encourages accountability through transparency and is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of government and citizens alike.

Acknowledging the recent review of the bill by the government statute law review commissioner, MFWA wishes to state that there is the need to ensure that the bill when passed into law will conform to international best practise. These standards include: maximum disclosure, the obligation to publish, limited scope of exceptions, user-friendly access procedures, limited costs, open meetings, an overriding disclosure principle, the promotion of open government and the protection of whistleblowers.

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