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Freedom of information conference brings together participants from Bomi and Cape Mount counties

(CEMESP/IFEX) - Monrovia 25 November 2011 - Delegates of the 23 November 2011 Robertsport FOI Conference have, among other things, petitioned the organizer, Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), to establish an alternative data bank on all sectors that fall within the scope of public and relevant private bodies as custodians of information, as stipulated in the Liberia Freedom of Information Act 2010. The participants say they want CEMESP to maintain the multi-sectoral data bank as the reference point in the event institutions are not forthcoming when FOI requests are filed.

The one-day conference on the effective implementation of the Liberia Freedom of Information Act 2010, held at the Robertsport Youth Center, drew participants from a wide range of social backgrounds including traditional and opinion leaders, community radio journalists, students and civil society actors from the Bomi and Cape Mount counties.

In a communiqué that was adopted as an outcome of the conference, participants thanked CEMESP and partners for according them information on the inherent benefit of the FOI law, and how to use the law when demanding information in such as way as to ensure responsive and open governance.

With copies of the Act provided to the 50 participants, they have henceforth pledged to engage custodians of information from public and relevant private bodies in fulfilling the supply side of the law. They have also committed themselves to raising awareness by way of translation of the FOI Act in their various communities. Participants called for the progressive review of the Liberian FOI law and appealed for the decentralization of the complaint and appeal channels in the event of refusal to disclose information.

The expert Powerpoint presentations of the FOI Conference focused on roles of the legislature, media, local government, students and CSOs, as well as the powers of the Independent Information Commissioner, complaints and request procedures and exemption areas, protection for requesters, appeals and penalties for wrongful refusal to provide information, as contained in the Act.

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