IIC Validates Liberia’s Access To Information Records

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By Mark N. Mengonfia- mmenginfia@gmail.com

Two government institutions are in disagreement over their functions as one is accusing the other of usurping its function, while the other says it has done nothing wrong, but helping with the record system of Liberia.

The Independent Information Commission (IIC) this Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at a local resort in Congo Town validated what they titled, “Liberia Access to Information Records Management Guidelines”.

At the opening of the validation which brought together stakeholders from the government, civil society, and development partners and the media, Commissioner of IIC, Cllr. Mark Bedor-Wla Freeman said, the scope of the validated record management and guideline shall cover all public authorities and bodies at all branches and levels of the government of Liberia.

According to the validated record management and guideline, its scope covers gathering documents from Ministries, bureaus, departments, autonomous agencies, public corporation, commissions, committees, sub-committees.

Other areas it has placed its focus on also include boards, military and paramilitary institutions, and any other related bodies supported in whole or in part by public resources and all private bodies providing public functions, and or public services.

Just before the validation process could commence, the Public Relations officer at the National Archives, Kaipee Luther Newray said, the action of the IIC was a total usurping of their function at the National Archives.

Mr. Newray said, Sub chapter 81.3 of the  Act that established the National Archives in 1977 that speaks to the functions of the director general states that the Director general shall be responsible for performing the duties of making provision for the economical and efficient management of government records by developing standards, procedures, and techniques designed to improve the management of records, and to insure the maintenance and security of records deemed appropriate for preservation.

In an exclusive interview after the event, he said, “the law says that the National Archives is clothed with the responsibility to establish standards for selective retention of records of continuing values, and assist government agencies in applying such standards to record in their custody.

Cllr. Freeman, Commissioner of IIC  making clarity earlier said, the IIC is not in any way doing the work of the  National Archives, but was complementing their work.

Cllr. Freeman thanked UNESCO for the support in drafting the guidelines and bringing together stakeholders.

He also extolled the participants for their interest in making the freedom of information regime successful in Liberia.

Also speaking during the opening session, Stevenson Seidi, UNESCO Liberia Country Director said expressed his organization’s willingness to assist Liberia in its access to information efforts.

He called on the Government of Liberia to increase support to the Information Commission, stressing that ‘openness in government is a cardinal tool to democracy”.

CD Seidi said records management is very important in preserving history and other records.

The validated records keeping guidelines were drafted by Atty. Vaani Faati Kiawu with support from UNESCO under the public access to information as contained in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16.10.2.

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