01 March 2012

Liberia seeks help to implement freedom of information law

Liberia has entered into an agreement with The Carter Center, a non-government organisation that promotes democracy and civil liberty, for assistance with the implementation of its Freedom of Information Act.

Passed in July 2010, the Liberian freedom of information law is one of the most progressive in the world, providing the right to information held by both public and private bodies, flexible request procedures and extensive appeal rights against the refusal of information.

However, in the 18 months since Liberia passed its freedom of information law, it has made little progress in implementation, sparking fears that, as has been the case in South Africa, the law would remain largely theoretical and would not be practically realised.

The decision by the Liberian government to seek the assistance of The Carter Center in implementing the law is therefore a promising step in making the law a reality.

The Liberian government and The Carter Center will conduct projects in seven government ministries and agencies to assist with the implementation of the law, with The Carter Center providing technical assistance and details of international experiences with regard to implementation and enforcement.

Freedom of information activists in South Africa will be monitoring the project closely. If the project is successful in implementing the law, it may prove a catalyst to encourage the South African government to seek assistance from the NGO sector to rectify the poor implementation of the law in South Africa.