University of Liberia, Press Union of Liberia and VOSIEDA launched ‘Strengthening Independent Media and Freedom of Information’ Project in Liberia

The 2010 Freedom of Information Law and Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution guarantee freedom of the media and to information.  Despite this, legitimate media outlets critical of government continue to face resentment, and citizens’ demand for public information remains latent.

With financial support from the United Nations Democracy Funds (UNDEF), VOSIEDA in partnership the united  project will strengthen independent media and freedom of information in Liberia through improving the environment for press freedom, journalistic safety, and self-regulation through favorable policies and practices. Furthermore, it will foster active citizen’s demand for data and bolster CSO, media, and government collaborations.

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has launched a project aimed at strengthening the independent media and freedom of information in the country.

The project, which will protect, empower media institutions and journalists safety, will run from 2021 to 2023 in order to provide the  needed support to the media body in Liberia.

Speaking at the launching program in Monrovia held at the University of Liberia auditorium, the President of the University, Dr. Julius Sanwolo Nelson, said the project will improve the environment of press freedom and journalistic safety and self-regulation through variable policies and practices in the larger society.

According to Dr. Nelson, it will also engender an active citizen demand for transparency of the media and of government’s activities, while at the same time bolstering CSOs, media and government collaboration in accessing and using public data.

“It is also worth noting that the project will address most Liberians needs, especially youth, women and other vulnerable group, which have pessimistic government view,” UL official noted.

He stated that a free press can inform citizens of their leader successes or failure, adding that it can convey the people’s needs and desires to government bodies and also provide a platform for exchanging information and ideas.

“In our partnership, we expect PUL to investigate and analyze 20 cases of violence against journalists across the country, evaluate cases of violence, summarize causes, impact and lesson learned as well as publish and distribute personal safety measures, identify and recruit 250 journalists for trainings, ensuring that 70 percent are female and establishing a national journalists peer support network,” Dr. Nelson pointed out.

He said, for their part at the University of Liberia, the department of media and communication studies will develop a training manual on the legal know-how, personal safety and security of journalists to ensure safety when reporting from dangerous zones, and train 250 freelancer and rural journalists in legal provisions as enshrined in Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution.

The UL President cautioned journalists that their freedom of expression and the press is a right given to all, but should not be abused because “we are all accountable for whatever we express, whether as the press or private citizens, we owe it all to our country, to support our national agenda and present the clearest picture possible but showcasing the positives and not only the negatives.