(LINA) – The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has awarded President George Manneh Weah for decriminalizing speech offenses in the country.
Presenting the award during the program marking the celebration of the 26th World Press Freedom Day in Cestos City, River Cess County on May 3, PUL President Charles Coffey said for many years the Union joined other countries to call for freedom of information laws to be strengthened, simplified or created where they did not exist.
But, he said, it all came to an end when the government of Liberia under the administration of President Weah complied with provisions of the United Nations Convention on Media Freedom an passed into law an Act decriminalizing speech offenses.
Coffey said the initiative by government is a clear manifestation of its pledge to further accelerate its accountability and transparency efforts intended to strengthen public confidence.
It can be recalled that during his first year in office, President Weah resubmitted to the 54th National Legislature, with changes to the Legislation earlier submitted to the 53rd Legislature by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to the 54thNational Legislature to decriminalize free speech.
Some of the changes included titling the Press Freedom Act after the deceased former President of the Press Union of Liberia and veteran journalist Kamara Abdullai Kamara.
It amends Chapter 11 of the Penal Law of 1978, repealing Sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the President; 11.12 on Sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence.
Free speech and media freedom advocates have hailed the President for demonstrating genuine commitment to protecting the basic tenets of Liberia’s fledgling democracy.
The KAK Act of Press Freedom also strengthens and actualizes Liberia’s commitment to several legal instruments it signed, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Table Mountain Declaration, among others.
Coffey, however, said Liberia is now considered as one of the countries with an improved media environment since the decriminalization of speech offenses by President Weah.
“Freedom of speech is the foundation of every free democratic society as such we are committed to cultivating a future in which truth and justice are upheld, where media freedom is robustly protected and culturally embraced,” Coffey said.
The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, received the award on behalf of President Weah at the 2019 celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Cestos City, River Cess County.