18 January 2013

Liberia: Several Anti-Press Freedom Laws to Be Repelled

President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf is expected to request members of the 53rd Legislature to repel several laws against press freedom in Liberia during her first report to the Legislature, Information Minister, Lewis Brown, has disclosed.

The Liberian leader would shortly present her annual report to the lawmakers in the joint chambers of the Legislature.

The legislature is located on Capitol Hill, Monrovia. According to Minister Brown, portion of the president legislative agenda would focus on the repelling of section 11.11 of the Penal Code of Liberia, including sedition, criminal malevolence, amongst others. He made the disclosure on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the start of a two-day round table discussion on Liberia Media Laws Reform. The discussion, which is ongoing at the Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia, is organized by the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) in partnership with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the Liberia Media Center (LMC).

It is being sponsored by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) and IREX. The roundtable discussion, which is being held under the theme: "Charting the Way Forward for a Better Liberia", brings together legislators and media practitioners, international partners, amongst others from Liberia and other areas.

The MICAT boss reaffirmed government's commitment and willingness to promote and protect press freedom in the country. He said government would not use any means to muscle any media institution operating in the country.

"I reaffirm the government commitment to work with the media and all affiliates organizations. In fact as I speak, the President will be presenting as part of her legislative agenda for the year repel of section 11.11 of the Penal Code of Liberia. We're moving sedition, criminal libel for defamation against the president, and criminal malevolence from our laws," he noted.

However, Minister Brown stressed the need for the self-regulation of the Liberian media. He said the media must be self-regulated so that excuses cannot be given to impose regulations on others. He acknowledged the pivotal role played by the media, especially the community radio stations in the sustenance of democracy in any society.

Minister Brown called on the Liberian media to become more critical, independent, and viable in order to ensure a more functional democracy in Liberia.

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