Liberia Signs Table Mountain Declaration
The Government of Liberia on Saturday, July 21, 2012 signed the Table Mountain Declaration, a protocol seeking to decriminalize breach of journalistic ethics and repeal laws contravening freedom of speech and press freedom to set the press higher on the agenda worldwide.
The signing of the Table Mountain Declaration comes less than two years after the signing of the monumental Freedom of Information Act.
Liberia is the second in the entire Africa to sign the protocol, which adds to the profile of being the first
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the protocol at a well attended program in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
President Sirleaf said the signing was in fulfillment of the commitment of her administration to uphold freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
The Liberian leader added she was signing the protocol to inspire countries on the African continent as freedom of the press is a human right enshrined in the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other international protocol.
“In Liberia, freedom of the press is something no one can argue about,” she told the audience at the signing program. She said ethical breaches in the media were “proofs” of freedom of the press in Liberia.
But the Liberian leader would not end without commenting on ethical transgressions being carried out in the media daily.
On that she warned that the signing of the protocol will be null and void should such trend persist in the Liberian media.
She made a strong call to the president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Peter Quaqua to assist in upholding the responsibility clause that comes after press freedom.
The Representative of the World Association of Newspapers, Roger Parkinson commended President Sirleaf for signing onto the protocol.
Mr. Parkinson said the Table Mounting Declaration was not only concerned with the abolition of the criminal defamation or “insult law” but also the overall development of countries signing onto it.
He said the law could go a step further in sustaining democracies worldwide.
The President of the Press Union of Liberia, Mr. Peter Quaqua urged Liberian journalists not to see the law as a license to ethical breaches, rather as a tool to enhance responsible reportage.
The entire signing was made possible by the Center for Media Studies and Peace-building (CEMESP), the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) and the Press Union of Liberia.
A partnership with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the African Editors’ Forum and the World Editors’ Forum was needed for the success of the program.
The Declaration of Table Mountain is a program that is a strategic part of the partnership between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) to advance media development and press freedom worldwide. The partnership allows WAN-IFRA to broaden and develop its press freedom and media development activities to support free and financially sustainable media around the globe.
For more information check www.wan-ifra/pressfreedom.
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