16 July 2014

Liberia: Cooperate With the IIC


RECENTLY, THE INDEPENDENT Information Commissioner, Cllr. Mark Bedor-Wla Freeman, warned the University of Liberia and other institutions which have consistently violated the FOI law to desist or face contempt and sanctions provided by law.

MR. FREEMAN SAID the University has on several occasions failed and refused to honor citations from the Commission for hearing into a complaint filed by Mr. Peal Nyekan against the UL for refusing to give him information on two UL entrance and placement exams that all students were said to have failed.

THE INDEPENDENT INFORMATION Commission has ruled that the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) through its Managing Director, Mr. T. Nelson Williams released documents requested by Mr. Roland Worwee of Corruption Watch in line with the Freedom of Information Act of Liberia.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN MADE the decision recently at the final hearing of the complaint of denial of request of information filed with the IIC by Roland Worwee against the LPRC Managing Director, T. Nelson Williams.

DURING THE HEARING, Cllr. Freeman indicated that documents relating to contracts signed by the LPRC amount spent on Public Relations, the Managing Director's salary and benefits, Board sitting fees, and details of travels made in the Corporation's interest are all public records and should not be kept secret.

COMMISSIONER FREEMAN SAID, "Following the careful review of submissions made by both parties; the Commission is of the opinion that the documents requested by Mr. Worwee are not covered by the 'Exemptions' as contained in Chapter 4 of the Freedom of Information Act of 2010; therefore they should be released".

WE SUPPORT THE Freedom of Information Commission and call on all stakeholders to cooperate with the Commission in disclosing public documents for the consumption of the public. The application of the FOI is public's right that must be respected and that anyone requesting for public documents must be allowed to get them without precondition.

LET THE LIKES of the University of Liberia and LPRC and others who are refusing to honor the FOI be aware that a new day of access to information in Liberia has come and that the decision of the Commission is a welcoming one and therefore, Liberians must take advantage of the FOI law instead of creating bottleneck for it.

WE ARE CONCERNED because the application of the FOI is another way of curtailing the high wave of corruption in the country. The fight against corruption cannot be complete in the absence of the FOI; that is why we are calling on all government institutions and agencies as well as the private sectors to cooperate with the FOI as one of the best tools in winning the war against corruption.

WHILE WE BELIEVE that there are some classified documents that are of national security concern and therefore cannot be disclosed to the public or the safety of the nation, there are other documents and instruments of public interest that have nothing to do with national security which must be given when requested for by the public and even the media for public consumption.

AGAIN, WE CALL on all Liberians despite their status or government agencies or ministries to work and cooperate with the FOI law and stop creating bottleneck for those requesting information. We believe that the fight against corruption can be won if we respect the FOI law and begin to cooperate with the Commission.


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