Media for Change-Makers: Accountability Lab Liberia Exposes High School Students to Ethical Citizens’ Journalism

Access to quality information is pivotal to the promotion of democracy and the sustenance of development and media has a greater role to play by telling the stories of citizens’ responsibility and integrity, speaking against ills in society and serving as a community watchdog.

Insecurity is a primary development challenge of our time and a significant barrier to the achievement of the development agenda especially the upholding of democracy. These challenges are further complicated by the changing nature of conflict that involves multi-level, intra-state conflicts of extended duration and marked by recurring cycles of violent conflict. The fourteen-year civil conflict in Liberia has led to the increase of human rights abuse and introduced many Liberians into deviant behavior. During the war, most of Liberians experienced the worst situation of violence ranging from rape, sexual abuse, economic exploitation, torture, etc. Women and children rights were abused on a daily basis without concrete actions taken as a deterrent to this inhumane act.

Though the Liberian civil conflict is over, the use of violence by many citizens of Liberia is still on the increase. This is because of the weakness of the Liberian laws and the corruption that has engulfed the judicial system thereby leaving the citizens without trust in the government especially the judiciary and the security sector. It also can be attributed to the lack of proper security civic education outreach.

Besides, inadequate financing of long term programs that will address a comprehensive judiciary and security sector and improve judiciary/security citizen’s positive relationship, there has existed the situation where violence has been considered to be acceptable practice in the minds of the people. Children are being denied their fundamental rights to education, participation in community social issues, healthcare, etc as most parents and community leaders are with the view that children are people without rights. Up to now, children are still been grossly abused most especially girls children who have been frequently rape and killed.

Since the end of the Liberia civil war in 2003, the security sector has been in the hands of foreign security personnel especially United Nation Mission In Liberia (UNMIL). This has created many weakness for the national security sectors thereby making the citizens of Liberia not having confidence in the national security sector.

The issue of crime is on the increase and the life of citizens is threaten. Streets crimes on the principal streets of Monrovia on the increase especially around central Monrovia, were many young Liberians considered as (car loaders) can be seeing chasing taxi with the hope of snitching people valuables such as lap-top computer, smart phone, etc.

Changing this story of spreading false, in accurate, and promotion of peace requires trained and independent journalists. Independent journalists can be a force for peace and reconciliation by correcting misinformation and increasing awareness and empathy of others. Hence, Accountability Lab Liberia, in partnership with Internews and with funding from USAID, have started a project called “Liberia Media Development”.