Community broadcasters call for the passing of RTI Bill

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Media in Ghana
Media in Ghana

Accra, Aug. 27, GNA ? Representatives of community radio stations have said they are frustrated that the Right To Information Bill (RTI) has not been passed into law after more than 10 years of its formulation.

They said the ?swinging? of the Bill between the Legislature and the Executive over the period had made access to critical information the preserve of the elite and powerful politicians.

Members of the Ghana Community Radio Network expressed their concerns in a five-point communiqu? issued at the close of a two-week training session in Accra.

?The delay in amending and passing into law, a Bill that has the potential to transform the everyday lives of ordinary people is a betrayal of public trust in the institution of Parliament and a failure on the part of Parliament to secure the interest of their constituents,? the communique said.

They, therefore, called on Parliament and the Executive to muster the political will and pass the bill without any further delay.

The representatives from the Central, Upper West, Northern, Brong Ahafo and Upper East regions participated in the training session, organised by the Africa Office of the Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative.

The broadcasters received updates on legal issues, principally, Section 16 (1) of the Local Government Act of 1993 (Act 462), to empower them to promote citizens? right to information and participation in local governance.

The law requires that, a member of a District Assembly maintains close contact with, and consult the people of an electoral area, on issues to be discussed in the District Assembly and collate their views, opinions and proposals towards the formulation of policies and projects for their well-being.

Members of the Network said after participating in the two-week internship training on the right to access information, they were sufficiently informed and equipped to broadcast their knowledge and to build a constituency committed to seek information from duty-bearers.

?We have realized the urgent need not just to push for the passage of a good RTI Bill into law in the country, but also to inculcate in the people, especially at the grassroots levels, the habit of holding leaders, particularly, assembly members accountable by seeking information on issues of concern,? the communiqu? said.

The communiqu? said efforts to have an effective RTI Bill passed into law to facilitate the constitutional right to information should be seen as a collective effort by the public.

?We therefore wish to remind our MPs that in 2010 during the MPs regional consultations on the Bill, Ghanaians articulated the need for amendments.

The RTI Coalition has been actively campaigning for the RTI bill to be passed into law.

The Coalition is, however, pushing for a review of sections of the Bill, which it considers problematic, especially with regard to the timelines for responding to requests for information.

GNA

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