U.N expert urged Liberia to advance freedom of expression

Liberia’s new administration needs to enhance efforts in ensuring freedom of expression and expand the gains made in the years since the end of the civil war, a United Nations expert said after visiting the country.

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, made a week-long visit to the West African country, where he praised the government for its commitment to freedom of expression.

“Liberia has come a long way since the civil war, and the space for open and indeed vibrant debate in the country is remarkable,” Kaye said.

“After two democratic elections marked by increasingly active media and free expression on the campaign trail, Liberia enjoys a particular moment to savour its early post-conflict successes,” he added.

The Special Rapporteur urged the authorities to prioritize the implementation of Liberia’s freedom of information laws which were adopted in 2010.

“The Access to Information Act depends on political will for its implementation,” he said.

“I particularly urge the authorities to actively disclose and disseminate information, through online mechanisms, regular press briefings, and other tools.”

He also noted that the country still experienced an imbalance in the journalism profession, whereby women faced significant challenges.

“I also note that women journalists face significant challenges and opportunities, but they are evidently quite underrepresented in the profession. I urge all stakeholders to take steps toward better gender balance in the profession, an outcome that would strongly benefit all consumers of the media in Liberia,” he said.

Kaye also expressed his intention to work further with the Liberian Government.

“Liberia maintains a very good and open dialogue with various human rights mechanisms. I thank the authorities for their openness to engage in frank discussions at the highest levels and I look forward to exchanging information on my recommendations.”