For four years now the freedom of information bill is still to get first reading in Ghanaian parliament after it was presented to the legislative body to pass into law.
Why the fear? Some argued that given press the power through the bill would motivate journalists to plot "coup d'etat" while some said journalists would override the other three arms of government.
The freedom of information bill when passed into law empowers journalists to demand information from government or public officials. The bill when passed into law would override the oath of secrecy and that would make public officials and their offices "vulnerable to journalists invasion". Upon realizing this the legislative body has failed for the past years to give attention to the bill after it was presented to them four years ago.
Why do public officers swear the oath of secrecy anyway?
Hi Npong, it is really interesting to hear about freedom of information issues in other countries round the world.
Thank you for posting.
The Coalition is also pointing out numerous provisions in the Bill that still have not been reviewed in line with acceptable standards and thus have serious implications towards its successful in implementation. Time frames and monitoring ensures the purpose of the law is met in a timely and efficient manner. However, the success of the Bill in Ghana is most likely to elude us if it is left in its current state.
“The bill in Ghana does not provide a commencement date of the law and does not also specify which sections of the Bill should be implemented immediately. This situation provides futile grounds for delays in its implementation because without time limits established; implementation can be delayed thereby undermining its enforcement. In Uganda for example, access to information act passed in 2005 has since not be enforced due to a problem of time limit”.
The Coalition-Northern Region is therefore urging the Executive, Parliament, Judiciary and all stakeholders to raise public awareness not only through lobbying but by fixing a maximum time limit for enforcement of the provision of the law.
We also suggest that for effective and efficiency to done, the implementation should be done in Phases where some Ministries will be piloted in the first year of implementation. Information Officers should also be employed and trained on the passage of the Bill into law.
"Why do public officers swear the oath of secrecy anyway?"
Excellent question Francis.
Mostly to help cover up corruption, I would imagine, having seen very little evidence of secrecy helping advance development of any nation or its people. Another excellent resource is the very proactive advocacy group, http://www.article19.org
The latest thing I have written for Freedominfo.org on the situation in Ghana: -- Parliamentarians propose extensive consultations, with a price tage too steep for the World Bank, which has promised to fund the consultations. http://www.freedominfo.org/2011/02/world-bank-supportive-of-ghana-f...
I am happy to hearing from you and the Ghana legislation. Your question is also very similar to my own research questions. Why do Government fear Journalism? I think we all know the answers...or at least have an idea of what the answer should be. I think in a way you have already answered that question yourself. There is nothing more powerful than freedom of expression.Besides as Woodrow Wilson once said: " Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance." Remember that you are not alone. The world will never be a better place if any of us, anywhere else in the world is fighting for essential freedoms. Some people think that human rights is an western invention, but even in the West we still have to fight everyday for the same fundamental reasons that you do: Universal Freedom. Your battle is mine too, Eliana
Is anyone still following FOI bill in Ghana, I'm looking for more information.
See new article in FreedomInfo.org on Ghana RTI situation, please forward: