works to raise public awareness about the value of right to information.
CHRI believes that right to information is fundamental to the
realisation of economic and social rights and civil and political
rights. Informed participation by all must therefore be guaranteed
through increased access to public information. CHRI believes
that right to information should be guaranteed by a strong legislation
and the process of law making itself must be participatory and
informed by the realities of the communities concerned. It was
decided that Ghana would be used as a test country for the rest
of the continent on the process of building demand for legislation
on freedom of information. We believe that involving the public
in the process is key for ownership of the law. In Ghana CHRI
activities have included:
Right to Information Coalition
Africa has spearheaded formation of a coalition on right to information
with membership from the National Media Commission, Religious
bodies, non-governmental organisations, Ghana Bar Association
and journalists. The coalition meets to brainstorm on direction
of its advocacy and to exchange information on the issue.
Africa decided a two-pronged approach was necessary for the successful
implementation of the proposed Right to Information Law. Alongside
lobbying of government and maintaining a high profile as a pressure
group during the legislative process of bringing the law into
reality, it was seen as crucial to enlighten people as to what
this right meant to them. Therefore a series of regional seminars
were held, sponsored by the British Council. Some of the seminars
targeted a specific audience such as one held in Accra for religious
leaders, and another held for Trades Union Congress members. Following
these, there were a series of travelling conferences for the general
public in various regions around Ghana. Attendance was good with
approximately seventy people at every seminar, with hugely varying
backgrounds. The seminars were held in areas accessible to a significant
number of the Ghanaian population. In all there has been seminars
in 7 out of the 10 geographical regions of Ghana.
a part of its activities to celebrate International Right to Know
Day, the Coalition on the Right to Information, through its Secretariat
- CHRI held a public
lecture on 29 September 2008 at Accra on "Adopting the
Right to Information legislation in Ghana - where are we?"
of draft bill on right to information
Africa has published a booklet that critiques a draft bill written
by the Institute of Economic Affairs, an NGO and provides a list
of principles that are internationally accepted for any right
to information law. Copies of this have been disseminated to a
number of individuals and organisations and the Attorney General's
was also instrumental in sending comments on the government's
own right to information bill in 2002 which it had collated from
its various seminars.
continues to write articles on right to information in newspapers.
It has held radio interviews with various radio stations broadcasting
in different parts of Ghana and in both English and local languages.
Television stations have shown interest in the various conferences,
often showing speeches from key speakers such as state ministers.
The effect has been tremendous and has helped right to information
become a talking point among everyday, ordinary Ghanaians. CHRI
Africa will maintain its good relations with the media, as it
has proved very beneficial in raising awareness and strengthening
planning committee on right to information (2003)
to its sustained commitment to right to information work in Ghana,
CHRI was invited as one of the few civil society groups, to be
a member on a planning committee set up by the Ministry for Information
to strategize on how the government could open up consultations
on the right to information bill, which has been approved by Ghana's
Cabinet, to the wider public for input that will shape the bill
before it is taken before Parliament.
of the Right to Information Bill
draft bill on right to information has been posted on the government
portal at www.ghana.gov There is also posted on the portal a Q
& A that assists the public to have a quick glimpse of the
bill. Additionally the sector ministry responsible for Information
has launched a strategic plan that includes serialisation of the
bill in a newspaper, distribution of several thousands of booklets
containing the Q & A, plus a number of nationwide seminars
for the civil service, the private sector and members of the public.
The seminars will also involve the Public Records and Archives
Administration Department officials whose main responsibility
will be to encourage proper records keeping. The objective of
the government agenda is to a. Create public awareness about the
bill b. sensitise public servants especially about the bill in
preparation for implementation of the law and c. create awareness
amongst the private sector about the bill and its applicability
to private bodies.
part of its lobbying strategy CHRI has scheduled a meeting with
key Members of Parliament, including members of the Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee at which will be presented views
collated from CHRI's sensitization workshops nationwide; provide
information that will assist MPs to debate principal provisions
of the Bill ultimately aimed at ensuring that concerns that CHRI
has raised about the draft bill will be adequately addressed and
incorporated in the law.