National Conference on Media Law and Policy Reform in Liberia Opens on October 21

A three-day National Conference on Media Law and Policy Reform in Liberia aimed at evolving a program of action for the comprehensive review of media laws opens at the Monrovia City Hall on Thursday, October 21, 2004.

The goal of the conference is to bring together key local and international stakeholders to critically review all laws and policies which have implications for media practice in Liberia and agree on a program of comprehensive reform leading to the emergence of a legal and institutional framework for the media, which takes local circumstances in Liberia into account, but nonetheless meets regional and international standards for the protection of media freedom and freedom of expression.

This process of a comprehensive program of legal and institutional media reform in Liberia is necessitated by two primary considerations. The laws which affect the media are scattered across statute books, which often makes them inaccessible. Some of these enactments either duplicate or contradict each other, while there are huge gaps which also need to be addressed. There is therefore a need to consider the possibility of codifying or at least harmonizing the laws and policies. Besides, some of the laws affecting the media fall below international standards for the protection of the media in many respects.

The objectives of the conference are therefore:

- To assess the current legal and institutional framework for the control and regulation of the media in Liberia and agree on areas in need of reform in accordance with international standards on freedom of expression;

- To build and broaden the constituency for media reform in Liberia by sensitizing relevant sectors of Liberian civil society and public functionaries and institutions about the inadequacies of the institutional and legal framework which presently govern the Liberian media;

- To raise the profile of the issue of media reform during the current transitional period in Liberia; and

- To agree, following on from the conference, on an overall program of action for media reform in Liberia.

Organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in collaboration with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the conference is being sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Liberia, along with the International Media Support, the Open Society Institute, Ibis-West Africa and the Partnership for Media and Conflict Prevention in West Africa.

The conference will be declared open on October 21, 2004 by His Excellency C. Gyude Bryant, Chairman of the National Transitional Government and Head of State of the Republic of Liberia. It will be attended by over 50 participants representing relevant Liberian government agencies, media institutions, professional associations, and civil society organizations. The conference will also be attended by international participants providing a variety of expertise in different areas of media development, media practice and freedom of expression as well as a number of representatives of international organizations and agencies in Liberia.

For further information, please contact:

Curtis R. Jarrett

Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism

Capitol Hill, Monrovia

Tel: 06-514984

E-mail: [email protected]


Elise Zoker

Press Union of Liberia

44 Clay Street, Monrovia

Tel: 06-520025

E-mail: [email protected]