Supporting Freedom of Information in Liberia
“Liberia went to war over the mismanagement of natural resources. The Freedom of Information Act can help hold people to account and avoid another war.” —MySociety
suspended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for failing to declare assets
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Freedom House rating for Liberia's 'Functioning of Government' in 2015
May 2014 End date
In 2010, Liberia became the first West African country to enact a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. The Act guarantees easy and inexpensive access to information for all members of the public who want to understand the activities and budgets for ministries, departments, public corporations, commissions, military and all bodies supported by public funds.
However, despite the wide-ranging scope of the Act, many citizens don’t know what it is or how to use it, and the responsiveness of institutions receiving FOI requests is poor. The challenge is turning Freedom of Information from an idea enshrined in law into a normal, effective practice that enables ordinary people to hold their government to account.
Using MySociety’s open source Freedom of Information platform, which has been deployed in 10 other countries, the project enables citizens to make FOI requests online, and publish both the request and the response for anyone to read. Combining an online platform with on-the-ground activities, which are essential for reaching communities who have limited access of use of the internet, the project works to:
- Drive awareness and usage of the FOI law in Liberia - with a particular focus on those groups who are traditionally marginalised from democratic engagement and accountability processes.
- Make institutions that receive the requests more accountable for responding to them.
- Increase the impact of successful requests by ensuring that interested stakeholders are made aware of – or find it easy to discover – information that has a bearing upon them.
MySociety is based in the UK and invents and popularises digital tools that enable citizens to exert power over institutions and decision makers.