Speed up Right to Information Law – MFWA to Gov’t

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has urged the government and Parliament to speed up the processes leading to the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) law in Ghana. In a statement issued to congratulate the transitional government of Burkina Faso on passing that country’s RTI law last Wednesday, the MFWA said, “While we congratulate the transitional leadership in Burkina Faso on taking such a bold decision to foster transparent, accountable and responsive governance, we urge the government and Parliament of Ghana to speed up the process of passing Ghana’s RTI law.” It stated that successive governments had often cited security challenges as reasons for not wanting to pass the RTI legislation in Ghana, although the right to “access information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by regional and international instruments to which Ghana is a signatory”. According to the statement, titled: “Transitional countries doing better than Ghana”, Ghana was touted as the most stable democracy in West Africa and successive governments, including the current government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), had trumpeted their commitment to transparent and accountable governance. “Regrettably, Ghanaian governments and successive sessions of Parliament have denied Ghanaians the legal right to access information. This is despite more than 10 years of pleas by the citizenry and advocacy by civil society groups for a RTI law to be passed,” it added. The MFWA stated that several transitional countries in the West African sub-region were doing better than Ghana in terms of demonstrating a stronger commitment to transparent governance. “A number of countries in the region which have gone through years of civil wars or transitioning from recent political crises have empowered their citizens with a legal right to access public information and to demand accountability. They have done so by passing RTI laws,” it said. It described the passage of the RTI law by Burkina Faso’s Transitional Parliament as a bold and significant commitment to good governance and listed other transitional countries that had shown a commitment to transparent governance through the passage of RTI laws as Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire. It said Liberia, as part of its efforts to rebuild the country 15 years after its civil war, passed an RTI law in 2010. Similarly, Sierra Leone, which went through a brutal civil war, as well as post-conflict governance challenges, guaranteed its citizens the legal right to access public information by passing an RTI law in 2013. Guinea, which has also been going through waves of political crises in the last two decades, guaranteed its citizens the right to access information by passing the law in 2010, while Cote d’Ivoire also guaranteed its citizens the right to access public information and demand accountability by passing an RTI law in 2014, it said.