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RTI Coalition Rallies Support To Petition Parliament   
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The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) has begun massing up civil society support nationwide for signatories to petition individual members of parliament in their constituencies towards a quicker passage of Ghana’s information law.

It is unclear how many signatories are expected to be gathered but the coalition in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, said it was partnering with the Ghana Integrity Initiative Consortium to whip up support from the local level.

The group, which includes SEND Ghana and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, “is mobilizing civil society groups at the community level to submit a petition to their members of parliament with signatures gathered from their constituents,” the statement said.

The move comes a day after the RTI coalition joined other rights groups across the globe tocelebrate the first International Day of Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) – which falls on September 28 every year.

The date, which used to be observed as “the Right to Know Day” by access to information rights activists, received the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) backing on November 17, 2015.

UNESCO member states adopted a resolution declaring September 28 as the IDUAI. 

“This recognition by UNESCO means that the discourse on, and the advocacy for the passage of ATI [access to information] laws in Africa has gained global attention and can no longer be wished away by politicians,” the RTI coalition in Ghana said.

It said the celebration of the day this year was relevant to the new 2030 global development agenda, particularly, to the Sustainable Development Goal - target 16.10 - which encourages all countries to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

The RTI Coalition is marking the IDUAI first anniversary this year with the theme: “Informed Citizens, Better Governance.” 

The coalition explained that the idea behind the theme was to re-echo the point right to information as guaranteed by Ghana’s1992 constitution can only be effectively exercised and implemented on the basis of a law regulating it.  

It commended countries whose governments have taken what it called “bold step” to pass the ATI law.

It said: “We would specifically like to commend Kenya and Tanzania - the countries with the latest FOI [freedom of information] laws in the continent.

“It is our hope that Ghana will take a cue from the current wave of openness and transparency moving across the continent and join the bandwagon to be listed among the progressive countries with an ATI law in Africa and the world.

“We are conscious of the fact that Ghana is going for elections this year, and if the current government with its parliament fails to pass the RTI Bill, that would mean asking Ghanaians to go through another lengthy cabinet and parliamentary processes with the new government and parliament.”

The Coalition early this week expressed fear that the country’s decade old information bill would be shelved when the sixth parliament elapses after the December polls.

It also accused President John Dramani Mahama of not showing strong commitment to enact the information law after the ruling National Democratic Congress pledged in its 2008 and 2012 manifestos to pass the law.
Source: GNA

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