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Police manhandle members of Right to Information Coalition during protest

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 2 February 2011, police officers scuttled a planned picketing in Accra by members of the Right to Information (RTI) Coalition at Ghana's Parliament House, to register their displeasure about undue delays of the lawmakers to pass the bill, which was laid in 2009, into law.

The RTI Bill went through the first reading on 5 February 2010. It is now before the Joint Communication and Legal Committee of parliament, and the Committee is expected to conduct a nationwide consultative meeting, but the coalition says the bill is not on the agenda for this session of the House, which ends in June 2011.

About 200 RTI protesters had defied a police order to reschedule the protest as it coincided with a national assignment to be launched by President John Atta Mills and therefore police said they could not ensure the safety of the protesters.

According to Nana Oye Lithur, executive director of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, and a leading member of the protestors, the reason given by the police was not tenable, so they decided to go on with the protest.

After long negotiations, the police decided to allow ten of the group's leaders to send their petition to the House. The organisers refused on the grounds that the House was a public place and therefore the offer was discriminatory against the group. One of the superior officers ordered his men to charge the group. The police then indiscriminately manhandled some of them.

The group, including some physically challenged persons, was assaulted. Some of the physically challenged persons were pushed off their wheelchairs onto the ground.

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