Liberia tests a unique 'freedom of information' act (38701)

Mar. 13 (GIN) – A newspaper editor is testing the nation’s singular “FOIA” – Freedom of Information Act to review the financial information of three Liberian public corporations.

Tom Kamara, managing editor of the New Democrat newspaper listed the agencies as the Liberia Telecommunication Authority, the Monrovia City Corporation, and the Maritime Bureau – all of which have had some controversial financial dealings, he said.

The act was developed in partnership with the U.S. based Carter Center to improve administrative transparency, government accountability and promote an open society.

It was put to the test earlier this year when the watchdog group ProPublica obtained U.S. diplomatic cables under FOIA showing both the U.S. State Dept and the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf pushing to turn over tainted oil concessions to the multinational giant Chevron.

The Chevron deal marks the largest concession in Liberia’s history, according to one of the diplomatic cables.

The Freedom of Information Act was passed last year by the Liberian legislature, after two years of efforts, making Liberia the only country in West Africa to enact a comprehensive freedom of information law.