The Independent Information Commission has formally launched guidelines and procedures that would guide the public in filing complaints to the Commission on the right to obtain public information.
The IIC was established under the Freedom of Information Act, amended in 2010 by the Liberian Legislature as a self-regulatory body to oversee implementation of and compliance with the FOI Act.
Speaking during the launch at the Commission’s head offices on 10th Street, Sinkor on Thursday, 28 May, Commissioner Mark Bedor-Wla Freeman, head of the IIC said the exercise is in line with the statutory mandate of the Commission and the guideline should be in uniformity throughout the country.
Commissioner Freeman described the guideline as very good, saying with the guideline, the job of filling appeals and obtaining redress would be done easily.
He said sometime people go to the Commission with complaints but without a guideline, they couldn’t do anything.
The IIC boss then assured the public that with the guideline now in place, the Freedom of Information will be provided to the citizenry.
The purpose of the guideline is to provide clear, easy and streamlined procedures for filing FOI appeals with the commission.
The guideline is also there to transparently streamline the rules and procedures for receiving, investigating, hearing and deciding FOI appeals filed with the commission as well as to state clearly the procedures that the commission shall follow to enforce its final decision on a FOI appeal.
Chapter1, Section 2 of the Act under General Provisions states among others that Public bodies hold information not for themselves but as agents of the public and custodians of the public good; and that; everyone has a right of access to information generated, received and or held by public bodies, subject only to such limitations as are necessary and narrowly established for reason of an equally or more compelling public interest; “the right of access to information includes both (1) a right to request and receive information, and (2) an obligation on the part of public bodies and officials to disseminate essential information that the public would generally want to know, including their core functions and key activities”; the chapter reads.
Chapter 6 Section 6.1 of the Act titled Appeal Procedures states: In all events where a request for information is denied and or not responded to, or an action of a public body or private entity in respect of the transfer or any handling of such request if is alleged not to be in keeping with this law, the applicant shall have a right to appeal the decision or action of the public authority or private entity concerned. By Bridgett Milton – Edited by Jonathan Browne