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.
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 Department.
was also instrumental in sending comments on the government's own
right to information bill in 2002 which it had collated from its
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 its
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.