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Samson’s Take: RTI – delete clause 13; media failing citizens

Parliament this week commenced consideration of the RTI Bill. It is hoped that the lawmakers will give us a credible law. But this will be achieved if they remove and redefine ridiculous and escape clauses. There are about twenty such including clause 13 which defeats the very purpose of the law.

CDD-Ghana and its RTI campaign partners have been pushing for action and the media ought to drive this crusade for a credible RTI law every day. Citizens seem to think media will be the biggest beneficiary of the RTI law. The media on the other hand, generally, can’t seem to be interested or feel an obligation to citizens on the crusade. Please don’t, as happened in the 2012 elections, wait to complain after the wrong has been done as law.

Read my last Take on the RTI for the full picture, but this clause 13 simply provides a blanket exemption for information held by public institutions. It ultimately undermines the very essence of the law. The State which is seeking to fight the corruption of tax evasion and illicit financial flows is also in clause 12 throwing another blanket exemption as it seeks to make information relating to tax administration exempt.

There is also the general provision in clause 5 making information within the Office of the President exempt. Hell no! Information gathered, produced and stored by all 998 staff working in that office can’t be exempt information. How many offices come under the Office of the President again?! Please let’s rise to demand and ensure passage of a credible RTI law.

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