The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding in collaboration with Internews-Liberia has begun a three-day intensive Freedom of Information (FOI) Investigative Journalism Training in Monrovia.
According to a release, the training held at a local hotel in Monrovia on Mayday, April 26, 2020, the FOI investigative Journalism training assembled 25 journalists from across Liberia who were recruited by CEMESP in a competitive enlistment process.
The training is part of a Liberia Media Initiative project co-financed by the European Union and implemented in collaboration with Internews, CEMESP and Local voices Liberia Media Network
The Project seeks to promote freedom of expression through quality journalism which includes capacity building of journalists to improve storytelling capacities to identify and counter misinformation and disinformation campaigns, hate speech and rumors in the traditional media.
EU Ambassador to Liberia Laurent Delahousse who graced the opening of the training said the importance of Freedom of Information (FOI) cannot be overstated given its role in enhancing democracy.
He said FOI is key to enabling people influence democracy and that the EU delegation to Liberia is proud to support such project that tends to build the capacity of journalists.
“Implementation of legislation is absolutely paramount for the functioning of your democracy” Ambassador Delahousse said before mentioning further that he hopes “the media is not confiscated by some for self-interest”.
He urged Liberian journalists to “give to the People of Liberia what they deserve: a transparent, accountable and effective government that works for all”.
Responding, CEMESP Executive Director Malcolm Joseph at the event said, the training will build relationships and provide networking opportunities, and enhance training capacity for a number of public Information officers.
According to Mr. Joseph, the project will also see his institution-CEMESP work with the Independent Information Commission (IIC) to compile and produce an annual state of FOI report and provide support for the reactivation of information hubs in the counties.
“It is expected that each of you fellows would have filed five FOI requests, develop and publish five stories using the Liberia Freedom of Information Law”. Fellows will be paid US$250.00 per story.
Also, the Liberia Media Initiative Project Director – Samukai Konneh said “fellows have got to utilize every bit of the training and take advantage of the opportunity given them”.
Mr. Konneh said 10 years since the FOI law was passed, Liberia has not been able to make effective use of the law, rendering demand for use of the law at an all-time low.
PUL Vice president Daniel Nayankonah, Female Journalists Association of Liberia President – Siatta Johnson attended the official opening of the training and made remarks.
Executive Director of Independent Information commission of Liberia IC, Emmanuel Howe pledged support to work with the fellows to promote the independence of the journalism profession.
He said one contentious limitation for the usage of the Law is the timeframe of 60 days’ requirement involving submission and request to the IIC to intervene and compel compliance.
Executive Director of the IIC also pleaded with the European Union to help with an amendment of the Liberian Freedom of Information Law to reduce the timeframe involved with delivery of information upon request.
Several top government officials made presentations on access to information and how journalists can obtain information from several public entities.
Monday’s training session saw presentations from Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Acting Chairman- Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala, Liberia’s Comptroller and Accountant General, Janga Kowo, and Cllr. Mark Bedor Wla-Freeman- Commissioner of the Independent Information Commission (IIC)
The Executive Director of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Atty. Jargbe Roseline Kowo also made a special presentation.
According to CEMESP the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority and Deputy Auditor General, Foday Kiazolu will make presentations at the training workshop on Tuesday.
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