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IIC fines PCC for denying activist access to information

LINA/Benjamin S. Taingay
IIC Commissioner, Bedor-Wla Freeman
IIC Commissioner, Bedor-Wla Freeman

MONROVIA, LIBERIA-The Independent Information Commission (IIC) has fined the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) L$6,000.00 (over U.S.$60.00) for violation of provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

In his ruling, IIC Commissioner, Bedor-Wla Freeman, said there was no statutory support for the denial of the information request and therefore the information sought should be disclosed.

The IIC further ordered that PCC make available, within five working days, all outstanding documents and information requested by the Complainant, but not provided during the course of the administrative hearings.

He also ordered the PCC to pay the L$6,000 fine within three calendar days for violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The case grew out of a complaint filed recently with the IIC against the PCC by the Movement for the Protection of Citizens’ Rights (MPCR).

According to the IIC, the Paynesville City Corporation refused to provide information and documents requested on January 14, 2016 by the MPCR.

In a letter to Paynesville City Mayor, Yvette Gibson, MPCR requested that the City Corporation provide information on all assets, bank account numbers and statements, properties, including vehicles and land cemeteries, as well as a listing of its employees and Articles of Incorporation assumed to be legislation establishing the City.

Richards also wanted to know the listing of PCC Council members and mode of election of council members, the corporation’s sources of income and expenditure report to the National Legislature for 2014/2015.

According to an IIC press release, Mrs. Gibson neither acknowledged nor responded to the request within the statutory period of 30 days, causing Mr. Richards to send her another letter on the request on April 8 in which he encouraged the Mayor to comply with provisions of the law by providing the information and documents requested.

However, the Mayor again failed to respond, resulting to Mr. Richard filing a complaint of denial to the IIC for its intervention.

According to the Commission, it scheduled several hearings, but some of which were not held, due to the absences and excuses made by the PCC.

"The PCC was finally represented and made submissions during three hearings in the presence of the complainant,” the Commission also noted.

It further noted that during the hearings, PCC admitted that the Complainant was entitled to the information and documents that were requested, and committed itself to providing the complainant information and documents through the Commission.

“Up to date, PCC has not fully complied as it has provided some of the requested documents and information, but failed to provide outstanding documents in accordance with the IIC’s order," the Commission in the release said.

Following his ruling, Cllr. Freeman apprised the parties that they have the right to appeal to the Montserrado County Civil Law Court in Monrovia.

The Freedom of Information Act, passed in 2010, compels public private institutions performing public functions, or receiving public funding to provide information requested by members of the public.



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