RTI law will boost public recordkeeping – CHRAJ Investigator

An investigator at the Upper West Regional Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called for swift passage of Ghana’s Right to Information Bill into law to enhance public recordkeeping.

An information law would enhance probity and accountability as well as facilitate proper recordkeeping in the country’s public sector to boost efficiency in administrative procedures, Mr Sebastian K. Zem, the Regional Deputy Chief Investigator at CHRAJ said on Thursday.

Mr Azem was making a presentation on the RTI action campaign in Wa where several stakeholders including journalists, traditional authorities, women groups, Persons with Disabilities and assembly members among others attended.

SEND-Ghana organised the programme being implemented by the Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening Consortium and the RTI Coalition with funding support from the USAID.

The investigator said when the RTI Bill is passed into law, it would present a powerful tool for citizens to demand and secure social justice and equal rights, a move that would add up to Ghana’s democratic credentials.

“Democratic governance cannot function properly without an informed citizen who political office holders are accountable to,” he added.

He expressed worry about poor recordkeeping mostly in Ghana’s public sector which stakeholders believe serve as the breeding point for corrupt practices in the country.

“When we are able to pass this law it will enhance probity and openness in financial accountability and social justice – equal rights to opportunities,” he said adding: “Public officials cannot be arbitrary and capricious in exercising their discretionary powers”.

He said the inefficiencies in the public sector owing to bad recordkeeping would be reduced to the barest minimum and save the country enormous financial resources for more development projects.

Mr Azem said: “The public must be educated to promote the passage of the RTI bill into law and also monitor compliance with the law once it is passed”.

He defended the public call for quicker passage of the Information bill, saying, “The push for the passage of the bill is not being done in a vacuum and there are grounds for this”.

He quoted extensively the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right to expression as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to back the urgent call on lawmakers to pass the law.

“The rights are not given by our presidents or chiefs or parliamentarians or pastors or leaders, they are inalienable rights,” he said.

Mr Ibrahim Saani, a participant at the workshop and president of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, told the Ghana News Agency that: “We have to pass the Information bill to enhance information access in all sectors or institutions.”

He said if the bill was passed it would allow people to have legitimate access to public information.

Source: GNA

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