We need to have the RTI Bill Passed – CHRAJ Director

Mr Paul Chinatra, the Bawku West District Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has called for the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) bill into law.

The passage of the bill into law he said will be a means to strengthen the country’s fight against corruption.

He said: “we cannot fight corruption when we do not have information,” and added that information was good for the citizenry and other interested parties to enable them empower themselves and to make meaningful inputs.

Mr Chinatra said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency during a Regional Civil Society engagement workshop in Bolgatanga organized by SEND-Ghana in collaboration with the RTI Action Campaign team.

He noted that information was a key component in the development of every nation, and said easy access to information by citizens on issues of interest and governance, would afford them the opportunity to make inputs, “we say democracy is all about participation, how will you participate if you do not have information?”

He explained that the 1992 Constitution only gives the general legal framework, without details, “so the constitution would say that you have the right to access information, but it does not tell you how to access that information, and if there is a breach in your right to access information, what sanctions should be given.”

Mr Chinatra however, blamed the delay in the passage of the bill on the lack of “political will” on the part of governments over the years, and recalled that the Local Government Act was passed without delay.
“In fact Special Prosecutor, because it was a campaign promise, less than two years, the government of the day was able to pass it because they had the political will,” he added.

The Director said even though governments have made efforts over the years to pass the bill, “it has always been in the pipeline. This time the President has given an assurance that he would pass this Act before the close of the year, so we as citizens need to push to ensure that the promise of the President is carried through.”

Mr Chinatra noted one of the key beneficiaries of the RTI would be the media and called on the media to take keen interest in putting pressure on parliament to pass it, since it will also ease the process of getting information for their work.