Monday, June 1, 2009

Media Foundation commends government.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on Monday commended government for showing commitment in the passage of the Right to Information bill."MFWA is happy that after a long delay in the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, there appears to be hope on the horizon as the Bill is being considered by cabinet for onward transmission to parliament," statement issued in Accra stated. The MFWA is a regional independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Accra. It was founded in 1997 to defend and promote the rights and freedom of the media and all forms of expression.The statement said RTI would encourage accountability through transparency and "is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government." "At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of Government and citizens alike". The statement acknowledged recent review of the bill by the government statute law review commissioner, and said there was the need to ensure that the bill would conform to international best practise when passed into law.The statement identified international best standards that include maximum disclosure, the obligation to publish, limited scope of exceptions, user-friendly access procedures; limited costs; open meetings; overriding disclosure principle; promotion of open government and protection of whistleblowers.Mr Ebo Barton-Oduro, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General, was recently quoted as saying: "The time for the enactment of the RTI Bill is now", and "that the government is determined to pass the Bill into law within the shortest possible time". The Deputy Minister stated that the government acknowledged the people's right to access information as an essential prerequisite for an effective and functional democracy as stipulated in Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.MFWA as a member of the RTI coalition said it could not agree more with the minister's assertion as the passage of the Bill would not only consolidate the gains made in advancing democracy but also strategically place Ghana as a beacon of democracy on the African continent, the statement stated.

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