LIBERIA: Press Freedom – By Abel Plackie

Liberia has many accomplishments to showcase and celebrate. Press Freedom is unarguably one of the visible achievements the country and it s gallant people must celebrate. The history of Press Freedom in Liberia is replete with repugnant and contemptible accounts. Successive administrations paid lip service to press freedom and free expression. There are numerable reports of incarceration of Liberians exercising their right to free expression.

The right to free expression and Press freedom is expressly embedded in the1847 constitution and its successor, the 1986 constitution. These two instruments guaranteed the rights to speak freely and the right to impact knowledge.

In spite of the depressing outlook, the country is rewriting its free speech and Press freedom history. The case is entirely different today. Liberia has never known and felt more Press freedom is now does.

In more than one hundred and sixty years, Liberians are for the first time celebrating the passage of the Freedom of Information Act and the establishment of the Independent Information Commission. This commitment has been lauded by Liberians and members of the international community.

Today, Liberia can boast of media pluralism where there are more than 75 radio stations, including community radios which broadcast in local vernacular, and well over 37 newspapers. The internet has spurred on social media networks and engagements at home and abroad. Indeed, this is something to celebrate as the Nation turns 168.

Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since ascending to the Presidency, has repeatedly demonstrated unwavering commitment to upholding Press freedom and other democratic values as guaranteed by universal protocols and the laws of Liberia.

It can record that the President received the African Media Best Friend Award in a colorful ceremony in Bamako, the Capital of the West African State of Mali. President Sirleaf is credited and venerated as being the first West African Head of State to sign the Freedom of Information Act. She became the second African leader, after the President of Niger, to sign the Table Mountain Declaration, which commits African governments and Leaders to work for the abolishment of all anti-media laws.

Liberia has rewritten its historical pages on free press and free expression, and achievement substantially driven by President Sirleaf. The Liberian President has unquestionably proven to be an embodiment of FREEDOM. This is something we must celebrate as a nation.

Today, the wind of free expression and free press is blowing across our country. People are speaking freely, thinking freely and worshiping freely. The government is being made to give account of public resources. Public officials are answerable to the people. The President, and the administration, is criticized-rightly and wrongly-without reprisals.

Our democracy is fast maturing and our people are being propelled from trustfulness to sensitivity. Oppression and other dictatorial tendencies have no space in Liberia; indeed, Liberia has turned the corner. Our country has made a massive U-turn on Press freedom and free expression, and certainly, this is something we must celebrate.
 
By Abel Plackie
Liberian Citizen
0886-844531

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