The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is very much concerned that, Ghana is still struggling to pass the Right to Information Bill after two decades of initiating the process, despite the acknowledgement by successive governments and citizens alike, at least in the fourth Republic, of the need for public access to information.
The theme for this year’s celebration, “Access to Information: Building Knowledge Societies, Fostering Freedom of Expression,” should remind both the executive and legislative branches of government to give meaning to Ghana’s international commitments on citizens right to information. The theme also presents opportunity for all relevant stakeholders – political parties, civil society organizations, the media, religious bodies, the academia, among many other groups, to ensure Ghanaians are informed, sensitized and educated, and above all, have access to relevant information.
Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution makes provision for a creditable legal framework put in place to guarantee citizens’ right to information. Ghana is also a signatory to a number of international treaties, and recognizes the numerous United Nations (UN) Conventions on human rights, including the right to access to information held by public bodies (Resolution 59 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1946). Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) further states that the fundamental right of freedom of expression encompasses the freedom “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Again, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs target 16.10) enjoins member nations to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”
However, in spite of the public acknowledgement of the importance and the need for public to have access to public information, successive governments have failed to give legal backing to their promises to pass the Right to Information Bill into law, two decades on.
CDD-Ghana charges parliament, as a matter of necessity, to pass the Right to Information Bill into law during their next sitting. The Center commends the media and, especially the Coalition of NGOs on the Right to Information Bill, for their consistency and commitment to ensuring that Ghana has a credible law that provides the avenue for citizens to access and use public information. The Center encourages the Coalition to be steadfast and increase their work and advocacy on the Bill until we see finality.
In celebrating the 2018 International Day of Universal Access to information, CDD-Ghana charges the government to pass the Right to Information Bill into law, and by that give meaning to one of the wishes of our beloved statesman, Mr. Kofi Annan, when he once stated “Knowledge is power, Information is liberating, Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”