A two-day media law conference is expected to begin tomorrow, May 10, 2016 in Monrovia with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf scheduled to deliver the opening address, according to a press release from the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
The Media Law Reform conference is organized by the PUL, in partnership with the British Firm, Albany Associates, as part of the Liberia Media Development Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The LMD is being implemented under the leadership of Internews, with PUL, LMC and Accountability Lab as the main national partners. The PUL press release says the Conference is intended to renew discussions on the current legal and regulatory regime governing the Liberian Press, as well as encourage amendments and repeals that will ensure that the Liberia legal/regulatory environment conforms to 21st Century realities, and those of a genuine democracy. The Liberian Media is presently facing aggressive and unprecedented use of anti-speech legislations by public officials and private citizens alike- sedition, criminal libel against the President and criminal malevolence are frequently used. Participants at the conference will also discuss ways to strengthen self-regulation in the Liberia media as a means of promoting professional standards and media accountability. Selected Liberian lawyers, members of civil society and the media practitioners are expected to make presentations at the conference which is being held under the theme “Liberian Media & the Law”. Press Union of Liberia President Abdullai Kamara said he hopes “the conference will develop a road map to renew advocacy and lobby on key instruments including: the establishment of an independent broadcast sector regulator; the sustainability of community radio; the future of UNMIL Radio, the status of the Liberia Broadcasting System vis-à-vis Public Service Broadcasting; repeal of criminal defamation/libel laws and the establishment of an effective self-regulatory body.” “The conference is guided by the broad partnership that prompted the successes of the previous initiative, to support a future for media freedom and accountability,” Kamara stressed.