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IIC Fines PCC for denying rights activist access to info

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The Independent Information Commission hasfined the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) Six Thousand Liberiandollars (LD 6,000) for violation of provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

“The Independent Information Commissioner’s decision is that theinformation sought should be disclosed, and therefore orders PCC togive, within five working days, all outstanding documents andinformation requested by the Complainant, but not provided during thecourse of the administrative hearings held at the IndependentInformation Commission, there being no statutory support for thedenial of the request. The Commissioner also orders the PCC to pay afine of L$6,000 within three calendar days for violation of the act,”IIC Commissioner Bedor-Wla Freeman said in his ruling in a FOI hearing between the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) and theSecretary General of the Movement for the Protection of Citizens’Rights (MPCR) on Wednesday, October 5.

According to the IIC, the Paynesville City Corporation refused toprovide information and documents requested on January 14, 2016 byMPCR Secretary General Gargah Richard.

In a letter to Paynesville City Mayor Madam Cyvette Gibson, Mr.Richard requested Information about all assets of the PCC, bankaccount numbers and bank statements of the Corporation, properties ofthe corporation including vehicles and land cemeteries, as well as alisting of its employees and Articles of Incorporation assumed to belegislation establishing the City.
Richards also wanted to know the listing of PCC Council members andmode of election of council members, the corporation’s sources ofincome and expenditure report to the National Legislature for2014-2015.
According to an IIC press release, Mrs. Gibson neither acknowledgednor responded to the request within the statutory period of 30 days.
Mr. Richards sent her another letter on the request on April 8 inwhich he encouraged the Mayor to comply with provisions of the law byproviding the information and documents requested.
However, the Mayor again failed to respond, resulting to Mr. Richardfiling a complaint of denial to the Independent Information Commissionfor its intervention.
The Commission scheduled several hearings, but some were not held dueto the absences and excuses made by the Respondent (PCC).
The PCC was finally represented and made submissions during threehearings with the complainant present. During the hearings PCCadmitted that the Complainant was entitled to the information anddocuments requested, and committed itself to providing the information
and documents to the Commission for presentation to the complainant.
However up to and including the date of the decision, PCC has notfully complied; it has provided some of the requested documents andinformation, but failed to provide outstanding documents in accordancewith an order of the IIC.
According to the IIC, PCC did not give any justification for notcomplying with the Act prior to the filing of the complaint by MPCR,nor claim any of the statutory exemptions stated in Chapter Four ofthe FOI Act such as National Defense and Security, InternationalRelations, Criminal Investigation, Trade Secrets and PersonalInformation and Privileged Communications.

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