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Gov't urged to pass the Right to Information Law quickly
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Participants at an advocacy workshop on the Right to Information Law in Koforidua on Friday had reiterated the need for government to urgently pass the Right to Information Law to protect the people's right to access information from government.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an independent non-partisan, international non-governmental organization in collaboration with the Coalition on the Right to Information in Ghana organized the workshop.

A communiqué issued at the end of the workshop said if an effective Right to Information Law was passed, it would consolidate the country's political stability by promoting dialogue and mutual understanding.

It said it would also facilitate development by enabling the people to participate in planning, monitoring and implementation of development processes.

The communiqué said in order to achieve that, people needed to be empowered and regularly informed.

It recognized that the Right to Information Law was a crucial tool in the fight against corruption, which continued to prevail in the absence of relevant supportive laws geared towards transparent disclosure of information.

It said the law would effectively transform the strong and traditional culture of secrecy within which corruption thrived into one of transparency and openness.

The participants therefore called on government to honour its campaign promise by taking expedient steps to pass the Right to Information Law as a pre-requisite for good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

"We urged the government to table this bill before Parliament before the year ends".

The communiqué suggested that the law should provide an independent body to oversee its implementation and promote a culture of openness.

"Placing this vital function with the Attorney General tends to undermine the potential efficacy of the law and contradicts international principles governing such laws".

It called for the creation of efficient mechanism for accessing information by providing a reasonable timescale specifically 10 days to make a decision on an application.

It said the scope of the law should be widened to cover not just government agencies but private bodies whose activities bordered on the people's fundamental rights or those that used public resources to undertake public functions on behalf of government.

The communiqué said resources should be made available for the training of information officers and for establishing efficient systems of record management in all public institutions.

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