The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) says the renewed commitments by key government agencies towards expanding transparency in government service, including their support to decriminalize media offences in the country, is an important factor in enhancing development in Liberia.
According to a PUL press release, the singular action by the agencies to make this commitment supports President Sirleaf's 2012 signing of the Declaration of the Table Mountain, strengthens accountability and transparency in Liberian government, and is a loud solidarity statement into current efforts by the Press Union and partners to reform the media landscape in the country. “This collaboration”, says Press Union President Abdullai Kamara, “will contribute significantly to the final repeal of laws representing the vestige of a system which worked against the press, free speech and the establishment of a culture of transparency. “We cannot be seriously fighting for transparency and accountability, when there are loop holes in the laws providing room for individuals in public service to threaten and harass journalists who have mustered the courage to pursue corruption cases,” Kamara said. The Press Union’s statement follows an August 1 joint statement by the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission, with the aim of ending corruption and other forms of illicit financial transactions in the country. The Press Union sees this collaboration as especially positive, and has meanwhile extended an arm of collaboration to work along with the agencies on its current media law reform task force, that will allow them to transform their public positions to energies and actions for the good of the growing Liberian Democracy. At the close of a media law conference in May 2016, the Press Union in partnership with Internews/USAID-supported Liberia Media Development, set up a task force involving the Ministries of Information and Justice, the Law Reform Commission and various civil society partners to resuscitate the media law reform process. The Liberia Media Law reform process, which began in 2004, has so far ensured the passage of the Freedom of Information Law in 2010. Other laws outstanding in the parcel of laws are an act to decriminalize speech offenses, an act to transform the Liberian Broadcasting System into a public service broadcaster; and the act to establish an independent broadcast regulator.