The Government of Liberia (GOL) and the Carter Center Liberia office yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the center to support government's prompt implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) law. Speaking at the signing ceremony yesterday at the Information Ministry on Capitol Hill, Information Minister, Lewis Brown, expressed the GOL commitment to supporting free speech and making information available for the people of Liberia.
Minister Brown said part of being a citizen is the right to know what the Government is doing in terms of development and all aspect of managing the affairs of the state.
Minister Brown praised the Carter Center for its continuous partnership with the Government of Liberia in not only supporting government but critically engaging the ministry and the entire government ensuring that the FOI Law is seriously implemented.
The Information Minister said the FOI is not a journalist's law but a law that is for the Liberian people because they have the right to know what their government is doing, saying, "Everybody wants to know what is happening to their development fund and indeed it is their right to know".
Also speaking at the signing ceremony Laura Neuman, Manager of the Global Access to Information Project and Senior Director of the Carter Center based in Atlanta Georgia expressed the Center's commitment to support and work within the framework of the MOU.
Madam Neuman further said access to information is a basic tool in promoting transparency and democracy in any society.
According to the MOU, the Carter Center will help the GOL identify up to two additional ministries or agencies to bring to total a maximum of nine targeted agencies to which activities pertaining to this Memorandum will be focused.
The Carter Center shall also provide technical assistance to the GOL and share the international experience regarding best practices for the implementation, compliance and promotion of the FOI Act.
The Carter Center shall also help convene and facilitate workshops and training sessions for public officials of the target ministries or agencies as designated information officers to raise awareness of the FOI Act and its operation and implementation.
The GOL for its part will designate a principal counterpart to work with the Carter Center's representative relative to freedom of information activities.
The GOL shall also identify, with the assistance of the Carter Center, up to two additional target agencies to which activities pertaining to the MOU will be focused, although implementation of planned activities under the MOU may be extended to or benefit other agencies of the GOL if possible with available resources.
Information Minister Lewis G. Brown signed the MOU on behalf of the Government of Liberia while Madam Neuman signed on behalf of the Carter Center.