The Carter Center and European Union have awarded certificates of distinction to nearly 70 Liberian government officials, including officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
The officials were certificated at the end of a training course to build their capacity in implementing the2010 Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
Drawn from ten government entities that administer justice, security, women’s rights, and economic empowerment, the participants completed 32 hours of training in implementing the Act, said an EU release.
Since November 2016, four sessions of the training have been conducted in Monrovia and at the Justice and Security Hub in Gbarnga, covering records management, procedures for receiving and responding to requests, proactive disclosure, ways to assist women and marginalized persons, exemptions, and appeals mechanisms.
Speaking at the event, The Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Program Director, Laura Neuman said: “The participants showed great commitment to strengthening the right of access to information.
“They attended many hours of training as well as implementing the lessons learned within their agencies. These government officials will lead Liberia’s advancement of this fundamental human right,” she added.
On her part, European Union Ambassador Tiina Intelmann recounted that the training on the Freedom of Information Act was provided under the EU-supported project: Enhancing the Rule of Law and Good Governance through increasing Transparency and Access to Information in the Security and Justice Sector.
She said the project aims at creating more awareness and accountability in the justice and security sector by creating and expanding channels of information between citizens and security and justice institutions.
It also complements EU’s dialogue with the Government in improving the justice and security sector amid UNMIL drawdown and the coming elections as transparency, information and openness contribute to creating a strong security and justice sector for all citizens.
“As civil servants you play a central role in making the principles a reality. The training you have now undergone is a tool to make this real, and as you have seen yourselves, is very practical, from how to manage records, to how to handle citizen requests, and assisting the most marginalized groups. It is now your responsibility to put this new knowledge and new skills into use”, Intelmann said.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia National Police, as well as the Ministries of Commerce, Education, Gender, Information, and Internal Affairs.
In delivering the keynote address to the public servants, Col. Gregory O. W. Coleman, Inspector General of the Liberian National Police, reminded them of their responsibilities to be transparent and accountable.
He highlighted that “if we are to stand as a nation, to be able to hold together, the exchange of information is a must.”
Since 2010, The Carter Center has helped key stakeholders in Liberia support passage, implementation, enforcement, and use of the FOI Act.
With funding from the European Union, the Center currently works to enhance accountability and access to information in the security and justice sectors, including for women.
The Carter Center will continue to provide technical assistance to the certified government officials and their agencies as they work to apply their training and institutionalize the right of access to information for all Liberians.