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Liberia news

Use FOI law wisely

Swedish Ambassador accredited near Monrovia Madam Lena Nordstrom is urging Liberians to make maximum use of the Freedom of Information Act in seeking credible information from relevant governmental institutions.

She says the principles of democratic governance include openness, transparency; participation and non-discrimination are important aspects of the Constitution of Liberia. The Government of Liberia enacted the Freedom of Information Act in 2010 as a demonstration of its commitment to free speech and opinion.

Ambassador Nordstrom served as Keynote Speaker Wednesday, 28 September during celebration of the “Right to Know Day” in the Charles Gbeyon Conference Hall at the Ministry of Information on Capitol Hill.

The day was celebrated under the auspices of the Independent Information Commission in collaboration with the Carter Center, and other partners. It brought together officials of government, development partners and students, among others.

The Swedish Ambassador noted that Liberia defines access to information as the right to request, receive, review, reproduce, and retain records, and documents held by public bodies, and private entities performing public functions, or receiving public funding, saying “But what has happened since 2010?”

“Do citizens and the media exercise their right to access public documents?, do they get responsibility for domestic task?” She said there is fear of retaliation or negative branding of women who dare to enter public agencies to seek information about their right.

According to Ambassador Nordstrom, Sweden embraces a feminist foreign policy, saying at it center is the conviction that equality between women and men is a fundamental of Swedish foreign policy.

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However, she pointed out that ensuring women, men and girls can enjoy their fundamental human rights is both an obligation within the framework of Sweden’s international commitments, and a prerequisite for reaching broader goals on peace, security, and sustainable development as well.

Ambassador Nordstrom said in the case of Sweden, the exercise of freedom of information rights is important to promoting inclusive, accountable, open and transparent democratic governance.

She said it is important for Liberia in the implementation of this important human standard that attention is given to address access to information for both women and men, and that all groups regardless of age, gender, location, ability, region, religion, and ethnicity are provided equal access in the promotion, and protection of the right to access to information.

By Lewis S. Teh

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