Empowering Liberian Journalists: CEMESP and MFWA Host FOI Training Supported by Dutch Foreign Ministry

In a concerted effort to bolster transparency and accountability in Liberia’s governance, the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on Tuesday October 17, 2023 kicked-off a crucial two-day capacity building training workshop for Liberian journalists.

Supported by funding from the Dutch Foreign Ministry through the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Accra, Ghana, this initiative aims to equip Liberian journalists with the necessary skills to leverage the Freedom of Information (FOI) law effectively.

The primary objective of this endeavor is to facilitate enhanced public access to crucial information regarding local governance issues and expenditures.

As a testament to the dedication towards this cause, 40 journalists from diverse regions across Liberia, encompassing Monrovia, Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa, Bomi,  Margibi and Grand Cape Mount counties, have assembled to participate in this comprehensive training.

CEMESP, Executive Director Malcolm Joseph emphasized the importance of this initiative in the context of Liberia’s democratic growth saying “We firmly believe that an informed citizenry is essential for a thriving democracy. Through this training, journalists will be equipped to fulfill their crucial role as watchdogs, contributing to a more transparent and accountable society,”

“The objective of this training is to create awareness about Liberia’s FOI law, build your capacity to utilize the FOI law, build your capacity to do anti-corporation reporting thereby leading to an increase in public demand for transparency and accountability about public sector service delivery and expenditures,” said Joseph.

He added: “In all these, the role of the media cannot be ignored. The media plays a vital role in ensuring that Freedom of Information laws are enacted and running smoothly. As conduits of information, the media fulfils an important function in ensuring that information is widely distributed. The media also facilitates audience and citizens participation in public discourse”.

“The media requires credible information to play its role within the freedom of Information regime” Malcolm added.

In alignment with these sentiments, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) stressed the significance of its collaboration in advancing the goals of quality journalism through access to information.

Madam Vivian Affoah, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) Program Manager for Digital Rights said the training is essential to expand Access to Information (ATI) in Liberia and throughout West Africa.

She said MFWA is happy with its partnership in Liberia and especially through this activity which aims at better preparing journalist to use ATI to promotes quality journalism, transparency and accountability.

Tuesday’s training agenda is meticulously designed to arm these journalists with indispensable tools and knowledge, enabling them to navigate the intricate landscape of the FOI law.

By doing so, the journalists will be empowered to elevate transparency and accountability in local governance through accurate reporting and dissemination of critical information to the public.

This training represents a proactive step towards cultivating an informed citizenry, promoting robust journalism, and fortifying Liberia’s democratic foundations.

By leveraging the FOI law, journalists are poised to play a pivotal role in holding authorities accountable and fostering greater openness in the administration of public resources at the local level.

This capacity building event extends beyond a routine training; it is a strategic endeavor to nurture a culture of informed citizens and responsible journalism. By harnessing the power of the FOI law, journalists can act as catalysts for change, fostering a society where openness and accountability prevail.

CEMESP and MFWA say they remain committed to fostering a transparent, accountable, and democratic Liberia. The outcomes of this training are anticipated to mark a milestone towards achieving this mission.

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