Liberia: PUL Raises Concern Over Brutalities Against Journalists


— Releases Media Alert Report

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has released its media alert report highlighting violence perpetrated against journalists, including two attacks against journalists and well-documented two lawsuits against journalists.

At a news conference held on March 31, at the headquarters in Monrovia, the president of the Press Union of Liberia, Charles B. Coffey said the alert report focused on threats/attacks and lawsuits against journalists and media institutions in Liberia, including issues of free speech. 

Coffey said on December 5, 2022, the Voice of Liberia complained to the press Union of Liberia of an attack on one of its reporters, Patrick T. Saah by securities at the Ministry of Justice.

VOL told the PUL that it assigned its reporters at the Justice Ministry to solicit views of civil servants and political appointees’ arrival at work. The broadcaster's intent was to hold public workers accountable for the job they signed up to do.

He said Lofa, on December 18, 2022, Journalist Nyan Flomo, Jr. complained of being attacked by Lofa County Attorney, Atty. Luther Sumo, during a county, meet match between Lofa and Nimba Counties in Voinjama.

Flomo narrated that they went to provide coverage of the match and all Nimba journalists who have gone to cover the tournament for the people of Nimba,” he said. 

Commenting on the lawsuit, Coffey said on December 28, 2022, Journalist Mohammed Sheriff, ELBC correspondent was sued by Madam Mary G. Varney, President of a local women's group for a published article on his Facebook page.

“The article titled “Dismiss them”, aggrieved women in Bomi County called on authorities of the county. Journalist Sheriff stated that the story was based on an interview on PUMA FM some aggrieved women called for the dismissal of county officials including the superintendent,” Coffey has said.

He said The Office of the Bomi County Superintendent launched an investigation into the claim by the aggrieved women under the banner rural women structure seeking the dismissal of three officials of the Bomi Rural Women Association. 

Coffey said according to Journalist Sheriff, the group under the signatories of 115 women from across the civil society in Bomi further accused the three officials of singlehandedly running the affairs of the Rural Women Association and accusing them of embezzling money intended for the growth and development of local organizations in the County. 

Coffey further said in Kakata on December 2, 2022, Journalist Richard Duke Baysah of the Liberia News Agency (LINA), was ordered jailed by Associate Magistrate, Melvin McCauley after his car was parked at the dedicated site assigned to the magistrate of the Kakata Magisterial Court. 

He said Duke Baysah was incarcerated and charged with contempt of court for allegedly parking where Associate Magistrate McCauley usually parked.

According to him the Journalism Community in Margibi condemned the detention of the journalist and requested his immediate release. The Press Union of Liberia negotiated his release and had the matter settled.

“We have also tracked the deportment of journalists who covered the entire country during this quarter. This report covers the period October to December 2022 and intends to capture violence against journalists and media workers across the country,” Coffey said.

He said the PUL used the review of local dailies, monitoring of local radios (newscasts and talk shows), and analysis of direct complaints from reporters in the counties and the PUL Crimes App created through the support of VOSIEDA to capture these happenings.

According to him, this report covers the period from October to December 2022 and intends to capture violence against journalists and media workers across the country. 

Meanwhile, Coffey said all measures have been put into place to ensure that journalists do their work, and at the same time report incidences of attack using the PUL Crimes App.