Thwarted Liberian Group Seeks Asset Disclosures

3 May 2013

A Liberian group has gone to court in an effort to compel the release of the asset declarations of public officials after being frustrated by the anti-corruption commission and the information commissioner.

The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building  (CEMESP) on April 29  filed a writ of Mandamus with the Supreme Court to compel the Independent Information Commission to conduct a hearing on its complaint against the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for denying the release of asset declaration information, according to CEMESP announcement.

CEMESP Executive Director Malcolm Joseph explained that the group in November 2012 filed a request to the LACC to get the asset declaration forms of all cabinet ministers and their deputies in accordance with section 3.2 of the Freedom of Information Act of 2010.

“Things have reached this level, after string of prior engagements CEMESP had with the LACC, which yielded no positive results,” according to the group’s announcement. It says further:

On November 21, 2012, the chairperson of the LACC responded and agreed to make the documents available, if CEMESP underwrote the cost of duplicating them. CEMESP agreed to this and indicated to the LACC in a November 22, 2012 letter in which the media advocacy organization requested the number of pages of documents in question.

But then on December 19, 2012, the LACC went back on its previous position and the chairperson of the LACC informed CEMESP that the commission was revoking its previous decision to allow access to the documents on grounds that they are confidential.

  Based on this response from the highest authority at the LACC, CEMESP on January 7, 2013 requested the Independent Information Commissioner to intervene in the issue and compel the LACC to make the requested information available. (See previous report.)

However, since January 7, 2013, the Independent Information Commission has failed to take any action or even acknowledge receipt of CEMESP’s complaint.

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