At least twenty journalists have been trained by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) to investigate and independently report on corruption and integrity related issues in Liberia.
The two days training was convened at a local hotel in Margibi County benefiting journalists from Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Grand Bassa, and River Cess Counties.
The objective is to empower and enhance journalists’ knowledge on corruption and integrity thereby strengthening them to highlight issues of corruption for advocacy and redress as well as to consolidate efforts against corruption and bad governance in Liberia.
The aim of the CENTAL fellowship is to further establish a network of journalists from diverse backgrounds to get actively involved with relevant project activities to provide the necessary visibility to ensure basic information about the program are timely assembled and disseminated to the public and to inform advocacy, prevention, and other well-meaning efforts against corruption in Liberia.
Providing information about CENTAL to participating Journalists, Anderson D. Miamen, Executive Director of the institution said after the civil crisis in 2004, there was a lot of focus on human rights abuses thus forgotten about the major causes of the war which was the increase in corruption and bad governance adding that “that was how Thomas Doe Nah and other saw it necessary to establish CENTAL to provide a check mark, ensure accountability and transparency.”
Miamen said, “since the establishment of CENTAL, we’ve always had the desire to see Liberia genuinely and sustainably improved human rights fully protected and corruption-free.”
He said the vision of the institution is to see a corruption-free Liberia where people in all spheres of society act with transparency, accountability, and integrity in all their dealings with the mission to create and strengthen a participatory social movement across all sectors of society to fight corruption, improve governance, reduce poverty and build a culture of integrity among all people and institution of Liberia.
Miamen said the values of CENTAL are accountability, integrity, transparency, justice, respect for the rule of law, independence participation, and ethical standard noting that the institution focuses its work on research and evidence gathering, evidence-based advocacy, and awareness among other things.
Maureen Sieh, the lead media trainer of the two days training urged participating Journalists to write stories that will include the voices of citizens, supported by data and other evidence-based reporting tools to inform and educate the public and influence public officials to act on the problems and ensure accountability and transparency are promoted in the society.She disclosed that as the public is allow to participate in the decision-making process allows greater transparency and can help ensure that political decisions and policies are adapted to the needs of people affected by them. Sieh called on journalists to research public documents including the budget, Liberia Anti-corruption Commission website as well as follow-up on other legal instruments to report where accountability and transparency are lacking.
Frank Sianworla, Publisher of the News Pubic Trust online platform in a PowerPoint presentation told reporters that an independent press is essential to promoting good governance.
The freedom of journalists to freely monitor, investigate and criticize government’s policies and action strengthens good governance.
The media trainer said the independent media fosters citizen participation in all aspects of the decision-making process and gives stakeholders a voice in that process adding that citizens can use the media to express their voices on public policies and their effect on them