The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and its partner in Liberia, the Centre for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP), have commenced an elaborate internet freedom project in Liberia. The project is aimed at contributing to shaping progressive policies that foster freedom online and help position the internet as an empowering tool for development.
As an initial step, a comprehensive mapping of the internet environment in Liberia was carried out to serve as a basis for further deliberations and advocacy for improvement in the internet ecosystem in the country. The mapping exercise was carried out with funding support from the Open Society Foundations under the New Executives Fund.
The mapping report will be presented to key stakeholders at a one-day stakeholders’ forum on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The event will be on the theme: Liberia Internet Environment: Prospects and Challenges.
“We look forward to using the presentation of the internet space review report as a foundation for state and non-state actors to interface and come out with advocacy and lobby strategies that will influence policies for effective utility of the internet space in Liberia,” said Malcolm Joseph, Executive Director of CEMESP.
A high point in the process will be the training of civil society groups and the setting up of a Civil Society Coalition on Internet Freedom in Liberia. The forum and training activities are being carried out with funding support from the UK-based Global Partners Digital.
“Liberia is making tremendous progress in its democratic processes. The internet has become a great enabler of citizens’ participation and for freedom of expression, which are essential requirements for good governance and democratisation. So it is great that the MFWA and CEMESP are working on promoting internet freedom in the country at this time,” said, Mrs. Dora Mawutor, the MFWA’s programme officer who is in charge of the project.
The MFWA and CEMESP are jointly pursuing this project from the point of view of the principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom as well as other regional and international instruments on internet freedom.
In the preamble of the African declaration it is stated that Internet is an enabling space and resource for the realisation of all human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, the right of access to information, the right of freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of opinion, thought and belief, the right to be free from discrimination in all forms, the right to education, the right to culture and language, and the right of access to socio-economic services, among other things.