Carter Center working with Liberia on Freedom of Information Act
The Carter Center will establish a local office in Liberia and work closely with civil society, and government agencies to improve administrative transparency, government accountability and promote an open society. This comes as a result of a memorandum of understanding between the Liberian government and the U.S. based Carter Center signed in January 2011.
The Carter Center compiled a video to show why access to information is so important in such a fragile democracy. As the video shows, although Liberian people’s rights to basic information have been denied, notably in the area of land ownership and court decisions, the recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would put an end to it, and helps promote transparency and accountability. Senior advisor to the Carter Center T. Negbalee has suggested that, as a result of the agreement, citizens have gained greater access to a wide range of information such as government spending and donor’s contributions, which are geared to helping in the fight against malaria, and the provision of anti-retroviral drugs. Most importantly, Liberian people can readily access information on basic legal documents indispensable to their daily life. For example, director general of the Center for the National Documents and Records Agency, Philomena Bloh-Sayeh indicated that, “it is possible to collect on the insurance with a birth certificate” when a spouse dies and there is an insurance policy, or when children need to trace their birth to the marriage of their parents.
The Freedom of Information Act was passed last year by the Liberian legislature, after two years of efforts, making Liberia the only country in West Africa to enact a comprehensive freedom of information law.
By Shuoran Li Feb 28, 2011