29 January 2013

Liberia: Gov't to Construct Media Center

The Liberian Government has promised to help in building the capacity of the local media with the construction of a media center in Monrovia. The project is expected to gets off the ground beginning next fiscal year, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf disclosed on Monday.

Making the disclosure when she addressed the 53rd Legislature on the state of the nation, President Sirleaf said government will "construct and equip" a media center on the site of the old government hospital on Ashmun Street, Monrovia.

She said the center will enable local journalists to access information worldwide that would enhance their work. The President praised the media for its role in the society, acknowledging the importance of press freedom, but stressed that freedom goes with responsibility. She noted that due to inadequacies in reportage by the media, perceptions were being formed and rumor circulated in the society.

Meanwhile, the Liberian leader has promised to introduce a bill before the 53rd Legislature on the Mountain Table Declaration that seeks a repeal of laws that impede the works of journalists, including libel and sedition, among others.

The President's pronouncement followed last weekend's call by Human Rights Lawyer Tiawan S. Gongloe for the repeal of three anti-press laws that continue to intimidate journalists in the country.

Delivering a keynote address in Monrovia on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at an Award and Dinner Night to climax celebrations of the 3rd anniversary of the New Dawn Newspaper held at the Bella Casa Hotel, Cllr. Gongloe suggested that government and its functionaries can overcome negative public views expressed through the media by the integrity and intellectual power of those governing the country, rather than the use of "brute force."

He cited the three anti-press laws as Sedition, Criminal Libel against the President and Criminal Malevolence, used by previous administrations to intimidate the press.

"Liberia must be a country where an untrue story about the government and its functionaries can be corrected by the power of the true told, intelligently, by the functionaries of government and not by the use of police power," stressed Gongloe, who formerly served in the Sirleaf Administration.

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