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MPs Divided Over Right to Information Bill
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There was a sharp division between Majority and Minority Members of Parliament (MPs) on the floor of Parliament yesterday as the House begun the consideration of the passing into law the Right to Information (RTI) bill which has been before it since 2013.

The RTI bill, which was ushered into its consideration stage yesterday, and was expected to be discussed by the House clause by clause with all concerns debated and voted upon, hit a rock at its beginning.

Members were divided over the difference between the right to information and right of access of the information.

Members who contributed to the amendment of clause 1 of the bill noted that the right to information did not necessarily mean access to information, hence the need to amend it for clarification on the procedure to access information.

For instance, MP for Tamale South and Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, opined that the proposed amendment of clause 1 was based on provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution which state that “all persons shall have the right to information,” adding that right to access to any information in the possession of any public institution must be subject to the constitutional provision.

According to him, he had seen practice like that in the House where some members made verbatim reference to constitutional provisions that supported issues of such nature.

But the MP for Old Tafo constituency in the Ashanti Region, Hon. Anthony Akoto Osei, pointed out that based on the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, right to access of information and the right to information were not the same.

After further deliberations on the matter by members, the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, deferred the consideration of the bill to today, and tasked the Legal and Constitutional Committee of the House which worked on the bill, to take back and file an amendment to capture the conscience of the House with reference to clause 1, sub-clause 1 of the bill.

The Speaker explained that right to information has been provided by the constitution and that how to access that information was the subject matter.

“A person shall have a right of access to information or part of information in the custody of any public institution in accord with Article 31F of the 1992 Constitution,” Hon. Doe Adjaho noted.

It would be recalled that the RTI bill was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was not presented to Parliament.

The bill was finally presented to Parliament on February 5, 2010.

It was moved by the Attorney-General on June 25, 2015 and was read for the second time on that same day.

The RTI bill has been lying in the House for about six years awaiting its passage by members of Parliament.

Source: Today

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