By Garmonyou Wilson
The Independent Information Commission (IIC) has launched its Guidelines and Procedures for the Handling and Determination of Freedom of Information (FOI) Appeals. The project was launched recently at the Commission’s head office on 10th Street, Sinkor. The IIC was established under the FOI Act as a self-regulating oversight body responsible to oversee the implementation of and compliance with the FOI Act.
Chapter 5 of the FOI Act authorizes the Commission to receive, hear and decide all complaints as well as mediate disputes arising under the Act, including serving as the sole quasi-judicial forum to hear and decide all appeals from denials, adverse decisions or failure to respond to FOI request.
The Commission has determined the need for establishing requisite guidelines and procedures for the effective and transparent handling of disputes and appeals arising from or in connection with any case in which the FOI requester is dissatisfied by the response or failure to respond by a Public Body or a Private Body performing public functions or providing public service.
The guidelines govern all processes and procedures for investigating hearing of complaints and appeals, and issuing decisions.
Speaking at the launching program, IIC Commission Mark Freeman said the Commission has been hearing cases but it has been difficult because there were no rules to guide the process.
Commissioner Freeman stated that the Commission will ensure that freedom of Information is guaranteed to all Liberians.
One of the framers of the FOI Act and Executive Director of the Center for Peace Building and Media Studies, Malcolm Joseph, expressed gratitude that there is a Commission to fast track the process. He then applauded the Liberian Government for being among four countries that has adopted theFOI law.
A representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Augusta McGill Pshorr, said the launching of the guidelines and procedures for the handling and the determination of the FOI means that citizens can seek redress in a timely manner.
Mr. Alphonso Zeon of the Cater Center called on the Commission to pursue its mandate without fear or favor and that the Carter Center would continue to work with the IIC.