The Right to Information Coalition (RTI Coalition) Ghana has urged diplomats at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UN-UPR) Pre-session in Geneva, Switzerland, to make recommendations to Ghana to pass the RTI Bill when Ghana appears before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) next month for the 3rdreview of its human rights record.
The call was made during a presentation made to the UN Permanent missions in Geneva on Tuesday October 10th, by the Human Rights NGO Forum, of which the Coalition is a member. The NGO Forum noted that even though Ghana had made significant progress in implementing some of the recommendations made by the diplomats in 2012, a lot still remains to be done by Ghana to ensure compliance with its obligations under various regional and international law.
Ghana had accepted recommendations made by the Canada and Austria during the country’s review in 2012 for the passage of the RTI law but till date Ghana has not complied with this recommendation. Members of the Coalition who were present in Geneva used the opportunity to engage individual missions and presented them with factsheets of the current right to information regime in Ghana and why the government of Ghana needs to hasten the passage of the RTI Bill.
Some of the permanent missions engaged include the USA, Germany, Haiti and Denmark. The one on one engagement was to ensure that these missions make specific recommendations for Ghana to pass the RTI Bill currently before Cabinet, into law.
The advocacy for the passage of the RTI Bill has been ongoing for over a decade; all efforts to get government both past and present to pass the legislation has not yielded the required result. The Bill was thoroughly reviewed and amended by the previous Parliament (6thParliament), but the 6th Parliament could not pass the Bill into law until it lapsed in 2017 following the 2016 elections.
Presently, the Bill has reverted to cabinet and from January 2017 till date, cabinet is yet to approve for the Bill to be tabled before the 7th Parliament, which is currently sitting for its last session for the year 2017.
Ghana is expected to present a report in November 2017 to the UNHRC with updates on the state of human rights in the country and the status of implementation of previous recommendations received and accepted by the Government of Ghana including the country’s efforts to ensure the passage of the RTI legislation.