Prime News Ghana

Majority's attempt to force RTI through is "just a smoke screen" - Emile Short

By Jeffrey Owusu-Mensah
Justice Emile Short

Former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Emile Short, is finding it difficult to understand why parliament has not been able to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill until now and was struggling to force it through a day before its dissolution. 

The RTI Bill which is basically about giving citizens information held by government bodies was proposed over fifteen years ago and has been in parliament since 2013 but was yet to be passed barely 24 hours to the dissolution of the sixth parliament.

While the Majority wanted to hurriedly pass the bill before the dissolution of parliament, the Minority threatened to boycott the proceedings until some amendments were made leaving the Majority frustrated and complaining of sabotage by the Minority.

This development has been heavily criticised by advocates of the RTI as the failure to pass the bill would mean a restart of the whole process in the next parliament.

Outgoing President, John Mahama in his last  State of the Nation Address to parliament on Thursday noted that public and civil society organisations are disappointed in “our inability to pass the Right to Information bill.”

“Before this parliament is dissolved at midnight on the sixth of January a consensus can be found to pass this bill into law”, he hoped.

But according to Justice Short, the attempts by the majority in parliament to pass the bill before parliament’s dissolution are “just a smoke screen, it wasn’t really a genuine attempt to pass the bill”.

 “I really can’t understand why it has taken so long for parliament to pass this bill. The majority had every opportunity to pass this bill, which has been there for over a decade,” Mr. Short said in an interview on Class FM.

“I find it almost as a joke that they should attempt a day before the dissolution of this parliament to say that they are going to pass it. It was bound to fail because you cannot pass such an important bill within two days,” he added.