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UN human rights expert launches official visit to assess freedom of expression in Liberia

PRESS RELEASE:

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, is carrying out his first official visit to Liberia this week to assess the situation of freedom of expression and access to information in the country.

“This visit will help me identify Liberia’s current challenges and suggest law and policy changes that will strengthen the right to freedom of expression,” said Kaye.

“The constitution strongly protects freedom of expression, but there is a recognition that the legal and institutional frameworks need to be reformed for this guarantee to be meaningful in practice, both for individuals and the media,” he said, welcoming the commitment to freedom of expression made by President George Weah in his inaugural address in January.

“I look forward to engaging with lawmakers in Liberia in their work towards strengthening the legal framework,” Kaye added.

The Special Rapporteur said the low percentage of Liberians with internet access also needed to be addressed.

“An internet penetration rate of 8.4%, coupled with high costs, effectively means that the majority of Liberians are deprived of a fundamental channel of information. This is a challenge that requires a strong effort by the Government and the private sector, as well as by the international community,” he said.

The expert, whose visit is at the invitation of the Government of Liberia, will meet legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as journalists, other media representatives, and civil society groups.

The Special Rapporteur will host a press conference to share his preliminary findings on 9 March 2018, at 12:00 local time in Monrovia. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

Kaye’s final report containing his findings and recommendations will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2019.

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