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IIC Fines PCC For Denying Activist Access To Information
MONROVIA, October 10 (LINA) - The Independent Information Commission (IIC) has fined the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) L$6,000 for violation of provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
In his ruling, IIC Commissioner Bedor-Wla Freeman said Commission’s decision is that the information sought should be disclosed, and therefore orders PCC to give, within five working days, all outstanding documents and information requested by the Complainant, but not provided during the course of the administrative hearings.
Cllr. Freeman said there was no statutory support for the denial of the request.
He also ordered the PCC to pay a fine of L$6,000 within three calendar days for violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
The case grew out of a complaint filed with the IIC against the PCC by the Secretary General of the Movement for the Protection of Citizens’ Rights (MPCR) on Wednesday, October 5.
According to the IIC, the Paynesville City Corporation refused to provide information and documents requested on January 14, 2016 by MPCR Secretary General Gargah Richard.
In a letter to Paynesville City Mayor Madam Cyvette Gibson, Mr. Richard requested Information about all assets of the PCC, bank account numbers and bank statements of the Corporation, properties of the corporation, 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.
The Commission scheduled several hearings, but some were not held due to the absences and excuses made by the PCC.
"The PCC was finally represented and made submissions during three hearings with the complainant present.
During the hearings PCC admitted that the Complainant was entitled to the information and documents requested, and committed itself to providing the information and documents to the Commission for presentation to the complainant.
However, up to and including the date of the decision, PCC has not fully complied; it has provided some of the requested documents and information, but failed
to provide outstanding documents in accordance with an order of the IIC," the release said.
Following his ruling, Cllr. Freeman apprised the parties that they have the right to appeal to the Civil Law Court in Montserrado County.
The Freedom of Information Act passed in 2010 compels public bodies and private institutions performing public functions or receiving public funding to provide information requested by members of the public.