About the Event
In 2010, Liberia passed a Freedom of Information Law that was the culmination of seven years of concerted efforts by the Liberian media, civil society groups, and the international community to make the country’s government more transparent. While the law is viewed as one of the best freedom of information laws in the world, its implementation has fallen far short of expectations. Today, Liberia’s continued lack of transparency poses a significant threat to the health of the country’s fledgling democracy. In his presentation, Lamii Kpargoi evaluated Liberia’s Freedom of Information Law, outlined challenges to its effective implementation, and identified major obstacles to access to information in Liberia. Drawing on his experience as a civil society activist, journalist, and lawyer, he offered recommendations for domestic actors, including the Liberian government and civil society, as well as for the international community, for putting the country on a solid path toward transparency and democratic consolidation. His presentation was followed by comments by Gemima Barlow.
Lamii Kpargoi, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
with comments by
Gemima Barlow, National Democratic Institute
Dave Peterson, National Endowment for Democracy
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Mr. Lamii Kpargoi is officer in charge of the Liberia Media Center, where he works to foster transparency and bolster media capacity through trainings and research. In 2015, he co-founded the Justice Initiative in response to Liberia’s chronic criminal justice administration problems, and also helped to launch Volunteers for Change, an initiative geared toward transforming Liberian political culture. He has authored a number of publications on the media, including Opinion and Attitude Study on Access to Information, Media Consumption & Communication Environment in Liberia, as well as IREX’s Liberia Media Sustainability Index. During his fellowship at NED, Mr. Kpargoi is examining how freedom of information legislation is implemented in the United States, with an eye toward strengthening public access to information in Liberia. He plans to draft a set of recommendations concerning Liberia’s Independent Information Commission, as well as guidelines for civil society organizations and the general population on how they may exercise their right to access information, as defined under Liberian law.
Gemima Barlow is program director for Anglophone West Africa at the National Democratic Institute.