Rights Activist Wants LINA Granted Autonomous Status

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MONROVIA, April 14 (LINA) - The Project Manager of Armed Violence Observatory in Liberia, Mr. Martin F. Kerkula, is calling on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to ensure that the Liberia News Agency (LINA) is granted autonomous status during her administration.

Mr. Kerkula said when given autonomous status, LINA will not only provide factual news and information but will attract international support to strengthen its capacity and improve the quality of service it renders the Liberian people.

Speaking during a courtesy visit Monday on Liberia News Agency (LINA) Project Manager, J. Nagbe Sloh, the former Bong County lawmaker observed that the agency will encounter difficulties in attracting the needed financial and professional support of other news agencies and donor institutions should it continue to operate as a government entity.

According to Mr. Kerkula, the process to grant LINA autonomy was initiated by him while in the 51st legislature, and a Bill went through both Houses but was vetoed by former President Charles Taylor.

He added that the bill got stuck at the Senate after being re-visited by the lower House.

He said the lack of information on projects being implemented by government was a shortfall on its part, noting that when the Liberia News Agency is granted autonomous status it will be able to garner support to fill that gap.

Responding, LINA Project Manager Sloh described the visit of the former lawmaker, who is also a former reporter of the Daily Observer newspaper, as note worthy considering his pioneering work on LINA autonomy.

Mr. Sloh said he will take cue from the information provided on the stalled LINA autonomy Bill, stating, “If it requires that we restart the process, then that is what we will do.”

According to him, among LINA’s many partners, the Germans would be ready to assist the agency, but have hinged aid to the issue of autonomy.

“We will do our best to lobby with the requisite individuals and officials in granting LINA autonomy so that we do not continue to operate in the midst of constraints,” Sloh concluded.