The Plenary of the Liberian Senate on Thursday concurred with the House of Representatives on the passage of the “Kamara Abdullah Kamara Act of Press Freedom.”
The Senate concurrence vote was triggered by a comprehensive report from the body’s Committee on Information, Broadcasting, Culture and Tourism.
The Act is aimed at promoting free speech, expression, independence and safety of the Liberian Press and also repeals chapter 11.11 of the Liberian Code Revised, Penal Law of 1978 on criminal libel against the president, 11.12 on sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence.
Members of the Liberian Senate voted to concur with the lower House on the bill following a motion proffered by the Chair on Information, Broadcast, Culture and Tourism, Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay.
Prior to the passage of the bill by the Senate, the committee conducted public hearings to ascertain the facts attached to the bill.
The hearing, which was attended by the Press Union of Liberia, West African Journalist Association, InterNews and Center for Media Studies and Peace Building, among others, convinced members of the Committee on Information, Broadcasting, Culture and Tourism for the passage of the bill.
During the hearing, the President of the Press Union of the Liberia, Charles B. Cuffey, pointed out that freedom of the press has been at the heart of the media struggle in the country.
According to Cuffey, anti-media laws are used against the Liberian press, naming criminal libel against the President, sedition and criminal malevolence as examples, adding that “such laws prohibit the media from providing factual, balanced, timely and accurate stories.”
He also pointed out that the existing law limits the media from adequately reaching out to the general public.
It can be recalled that members of the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Kamara Abdullah Kamara Act of Press Freedom on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, following a report from the House’s Joint Committee on Information, Cultural and Tourism, and Judiciary.
The bill is named posthumously after journalist Kamara Abdulai Kamara, a former president of the Press Union of Liberia and staunch advocate of press freedom and freedom of expression in Liberia and the world over.