The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was enacted in 2010 and is legally operational. Section 3.7 provides that “Every public authority and private entity shall promptly respond to all requests”.
The FOI Act requires that an Independent Information Commissioner (IIC) will oversee its implementation, including compliance by public authorities and private entities, and arbitrate on requests for information if they are turned down. On 19th May 2012, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf nominated Cllr. Mark Bedor-Wla Freeman, Sr., former president and vice president of the Press Union of Liberia, as the IIC, but his appointment had not yet been confirmed by the Liberian Senate under Chapter 5 of the law. Due to the lack of a functioning IIC and supporting procedures, public bodies and applicable private entities have not produced annual reports as required, and no information exists on whether they have designated responsible personnel.
The Carter Center, Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) and the Liberian Media Center (LMC) have ongoing campaigns to raise awareness on implementing the FOI law. For example, in June 2012 LMC launched a 150 days barometer to assess improved transparency and accountability under the new presidency. Its report states that “no agency made full disclosure consistent with FOI request” (1). These actions have increased awareness in government agencies of the need to respond positively to requests, as well as better understanding in civil society about how to use the law. However, it is difficult to measure at this stage whether the FOI has actually increased access to public information and improved transparency.
(1) Liberia Media Center (2012) Action Not Words! Tracking Government’s 84 Promises In 150 Days. Available at http://www.lmcliberia.com/resource/GOL%20150%20Days%20tracking%20Policy%20Briefing%20Paper.pdf
|Title||An Act To Establish the Freedom of Information, Republic of Liberia, October 6, 2010|
|Source||Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information. Unofficial copy from http://liberlii.org/lr/legis/acts/foia222/|