The Coalition on the Right to Information has welcomed the Human Rights Court’s directive to the Attorney General and the Ministry of Transport to provide appropriate information on the Smarttys bus branding saga.
Pressure group Citizen Ghana Movement took the Attorney General to court to compel them to make public circumstances that led government to pay more than GH₵ 3 million for rebranding public transport buses.
The High Court on April 13 ordered the two bodies to furnish applicants in the suit with all the requisite documents on the bus rebranding saga under the Smarttys Management and Productions company contract.
The Coalition in a statement to the Ghana News Agency said the move showed the need for authorities to quickly pass into law the Right to Information Bill that has been on the table for over a decade.
The statement said “the Coalition is fully aware and has always been of the view that citizens have a right to access information and this right is primarily inherent in the person as a human being and is also a constitutional right”.
The statement said while one did not need an RTI legislation to be able to go to court to enforce the right, without the law, the court becomes the only option, GNA reported.
It said: “This in itself is a deterrent because access to justice comes with huge financial implications in addition to the delays associated with the justice delivery system."
It warned that any delay in the court proceedings may provide an opportunity for such sensitive information to be tampered with or destroyed adding that with the RTI Law, citizens would have a hierarchy of administrative procedures to follow when a request is denied.
It said while the bus branding judgment addressed the issues brought before the court, including the disclosure of information relating to the branding of the BRT buses, it did not address the mechanics of accessing information generally from public institutions.
The Coalition called for MPS to “speed up” the consideration processes for the passage of the RTI Bill and to pass the Bill, with the critical amendments proposed by the Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs before November 2016.