10 January 2013

Liberia: CEMESP Challenges Liberia's Anti-Corruption Commission

The Center for Media Studies and Peace building (CEMESP) has challenged the refusal of the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC) to disclose information relative to the asset disclosure forms of ministers and deputy ministers, by filing a complaint with the office of the Independent Information Commissioner.

This is a first step of redress as provided under sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the Liberia Freedom of Information Act 2010.

CEMESPS's action is a follow up to a consolidated effort to stimulate public usage of the FOI Act by seeking pertinent information from a range of ministries, departments and agencies.

The request filed with the LACC for asset declaration forms of ministers was rebuffed by the commission under the pretext of exemption provision of the Act. CEMESP considers the explanation untenable, and counters an earlier correspondence from LACC which requested that CEMESP cover the reproduction cost of the requested asset declaration forms.

According to CEMESP Executive Director Malcolm W. Joseph, "we replied the LACC indicating our preparedness to underwrite the cost of reproduction of the requested documents, and even sought clarity on the definitive cost of the quantum of documents involved. It is however dismaying to state that instead of the commission providing the cost for reproduction of the referenced documents, they are telling us that asset declaration forms of ministers and deputies fall within exemption clauses of the FOI Act."

"CEMESP is hopeful that the Independent Information Commissioner will demand that the LACC makes the information available to the public," Joseph said. CEMESP provided leadership for the Liberia Freedom of Information Coalition (LFIC), which advocated the passage of the Liberia Freedom of Information Law.

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