The Center for Media Studies and Peace-building, (CEMESP) with support from the National Endowment for Democracy has continued the effort of stimulating the usage of the Freedom of Information Act in rural Liberia.
The project entitled: Ask Me It’s Your Right, has concluded the first phase of training in TubmanburgBomicounty, targeting participants from amongst local authorities, CSOs and Community Radio Journalists in the two Counties of Bomi and Cape Mount. The same category of participants will benefit from this project content in Rivercess and Grand Bassa Counties in the coming weeks.
A release quotes CEMESP' Executive Director Malcolm Joseph as saying, Unlike the rural component of the project, in Montserrado County, Information Officers of specific sector ministries will be engaged on the disclosure compliance obligation as provided in the FOI Act. This aspect of the engagement will ensure the application of specimen request filing templates that will be deployed by CEMESP trained FOI monitors in various ministries departments and agencies, as a means of testing the implementation of the law in Liberia.
The Tubmanburg training workshop covered a range of issues starting with the definition of the FOI legislation and its importance, a detailed interpretation of the Act, The Role of CSOs, Community Radio Journalists and Local Authorities in the Effective Implementation of the Act, FOI as Tool for Investigative Journalism and others.
The Tubmanburg session was highly interactive, with participants asking sensitive and thought provoking questions about challenges that fraught the demand and supply side of the law. Facilitators took patience to shed light on such questions as the rationale behind the payment of fees for the processing of requested information; protection of information requesters; technological inadequacies in rural setting lapses such as the absence of photocopiers in certain rural areas where the need might arise in disclosing information for such.
Participants were given the opportunity to go into two groups to brainstorm and list FOI request filing needs that they will immediately confront after the workshop. s CEMESP has encouraged participants to inform the center when such request are filed for compliance monitoring purposes.
In their post training evaluation, participants lauded the presentation methodology of power point and flip chart including the overall training content that was enhanced by the provision of reading materials inclusive of the FOI Act 2010.
Earlier in the opening session CEMESP Lead Programmer Alfred Wreh gave an overview of this project. This was followed by goodwill remarks by Tubmanburg City Inspector DarlingstonMacgee and Station Manager of Radio Piso in Robertsport both of whom thanked CEMESP and partners whilst reassuring that they will transmit what they learnt on the FOI.