The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) Wednesday, penned an MoU on the registration of journalists and media institutions in the country. The signing ceremony followed an initial standoff – a protest by the Union not to give in to the Ministry’s demand that it wants to be the entity vetting journalists in the country.
The Union’s stand was followed by weeks of dialogue initiated by the US-Government funded Carted Center.
MICAT had earlier announced that it will register both media institutions and individual journalists in the country, which it said was its statutory mandate, but the PUL opposed the scheme, reminding MICAT that there exists an MOU regarding such plan.
In the new MOU, like the previous, the PUL will register all practicing journalists in the country. MICAT, under the MOU, will register all media houses in the country in line with requirements set out in the MOU. This will be done in consultation with the PUL should there be additional requirements or guidelines.
Carter Center, IREX, another US-funded media and civil society empowerment organization, and the Mass Communications Department of the University of Liberia are witnesses to the new MOU.
The PUL believes that unless laws affecting the work of the media and free speech are repealed, the progress of press freedom in the country will remain elusive. In addition to other laws to be repealed, the PUL has begun holding talks with members of the national legislature to repeal all unfriendly media laws in the country.
The Union also began holding talks last week with lawyers, including the Law Society of Liberia, which will research other unfriendly media laws that are not included in the bill that will shortly be submitted to the Legislature.