Liberia, First African Country To Pass Freedom of Information Act…Press Union Hails Passage

By Agustine Myers – With the passage into law of the Freedom of Information Act by the National Legislation of the Republic of Liberia and its subsequent signing by the Liberian President, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the Umbrella Organization of Journalists and other Media Practitioners across the Country has hailed the move considering Liberia as the first Country in Africa to pass the Freedom of Information Act (FOA).

The Freedom of Information Act gives Journalists, Citizens and other Residents in Liberia the right to seek public information from Government, local and international Organizations, public and private officials, and other stakeholders without hindrance as was the case before.

The Bill was submitted to the Liberian Parliament by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and partners.

The PUL has described the passage of the Act as an achievement, and as the biggest signing in the history of the Republic of Liberia.

The President of the Press Union of Liberia, Peter Quaqua speaking to Journalists Monday in Monrovia, the Liberian Capital said the Government has acted in the interest of the State and will be remembered by all democratic forces in the years ahead.

Mr. Quaqua pointed out that the Union is aware of the problems associated with implementing a Freedom of Information Law, but said it is relieved by the determination shown by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led Administration to get the instrument enacted. He however said the PUL remains hopeful that such determination will be manifested in the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOA).

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has since forwarded the FOA to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to be printed into hand bills, as required under the Liberian Law.

Many observers describe the passage and signing of the FOA as a positive development which makes Liberia, a post-war Country the first in the African Sub-region to legislate access to information.

The Process to get the bill passed took a little over two years since it was submitted in 2008.