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JOURNALISTS CAMPAIGN TO REFORM MEDIA LAWS

Nearly four years in the making, three draft bills to improve the media landscape in Liberia were presented to the National Assembly last week amid public fanfare, report the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The three bills, drafted by the Media Law and Policy Reform working group with support from the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and other media groups, would give Liberia a freedom of information act, an independent broadcasting regulator and a public broadcasting service.

Supporters of the bills - mainly media practitioners, civil society organisations, students, women's groups and even some officials of the Liberian Ministry of Information - carried placards and shouted slogans as they marched along the principal streets of the capital Monrovia to deliver the proposals to Parliament on 17 April.

Receiving the three draft acts separately, the Information Committees of the Lower and Upper Houses assured the media and civil society representatives that they will look into the draft acts for passage into laws.

Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Wleh-Badio, who marched with the group, declared that the "government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf fully supports a freedom of information act for Liberia."

PUL is calling on the public to help petition the National Legislature to pass the bills.

Visit these links:
- CEMESP: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92683/
- MFWA: http://tinyurl.com/3qbks8
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?index=6075&Language=EN
(22 April 2008)

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