Liberia Coalition re-affirms support Freedom Information

The Liberia Coalition for Free Expression with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa has concluded a two-day sensitization workshop on the draft Freedom of Information (FOI) Law currently before the National Legislature for some key government ministries and agencies. The forum was the second of a series of sensitization campaign and was attended by Public Relations Managers, Research Analysts, and Documentation Managers, among others.

According to the Coordinator of the Liberia Coalition for Free Expression Calixte Hessou, the workshop aimed to expose policy makers as well as custodians of public information at public institutions to the arguments in favor of freedom of information, good practice standard of FOI law-making and practical issues for consideration when implementing FOI.

Mr. Hessou in a release said access to information is a vital mechanism for enhancing good governance.

He indicated that the effective implementation of FOI legislations is a joint partnership between the government, the holder of information and the public.

During the two-day session, the participants recognized that freedom of information is an important tool for empowering the people of Liberia to engage in their own development as equal partners with their government.

They also recognized that freedom of information can be harnessed as a tool for promoting participatory development, strengthening democratic governance, facilitating better government service delivery, supporting decentralization, fostering economic development, promoting public accountability and transparency, supporting responsible and effective media reporting, and promoting and protecting human rights.

The participants stressed the need for development partners to ensure that technical assistance and funding as well as other needed resources are available to support national bodies advocating for the passage and implementation of the FOI law.

Meanwhile, the government has re-affirmed its support for the passage into law of the draft Freedom of Information Act.

Speaking Friday December 12, in the Ministry of Information conference hall during the opening ceremony of the workshop, Information Minister Dr. Laurence Bropleh said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf believes the passage of the draft Freedom of Information act would facilitate the overall development of war-torn Liberia.

Minister Bropleh indicated that the Liberian government also believes that empowering the people with necessary information would afford them the opportunity to make sound decisions and bring about accountability in government.

According to Minister Bropleh, the passage of the draft Freedom of Information Act would ensure accountability and transparency in the public sector thus helping the government in its drive to fight corruption head-on.

At the same time, the Liberia Coalition for Free Expression has lauded the Liberian government for its public support to the passage of the draft FOI law.

However, the Coalition has expressed the hope that the National Legislature would give an immediate attention to the draft FOI bill currently before them upon returning from recess.

The Liberia Coalition for Free Expression is a network of four local freedoms of expression campaigners. They include the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), the Liberia Media Center (LMC), Liberia Media Women Action Committee (LIWOMAC), and the Institute for Media Development and Dignity (IMEDD).

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