Employees of the National Chronicle Newspaper have called on the Liberian Government to immediately re-open the paper so as to continue its information dissemination in the midst of the country’s national health crisis.
The Chronicle employee’s say the forceful closure of the paper without court warrant by the Liberian Government is an act of muscling the freedom of press, which the government claimed to have protected in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf regime.
According to the Chronicle employees’ release, it is in the interest of the government and her declared commitment to press freedom and freedom of speech, if the ban on the operations of the newspaper and the closure of its offices were unconditionally lifted.
On August 14, the Liberia National Police (LNP) illegally and un-Constitutionally burst into the office of the National Chronicle Newspaper, Carey Street, without court warrant. The employees also condemned the government for violating the organic laws of the country.
The employees said it was irresponsible, immature and reckless for the government to use dozens of armed police officers to close down a legally registered entity. This act, according to the employees, is an intimidation and anti-press freedom.
The Police officers, who took oath to protect life and property, in the process of shutting down the paper, mal-handled Chronicle’s Managing Editor, Jah Johnson, Sub-Editor, Monica Samuel, News Editor, Emmanuel Mensah, and IT officer, Emmanuel Logan. The police officers inflated wounds on these employees and further incarcerated the paper’s News Editor and IT officer which, according to them, is a total violation of the Liberian Constitution and Universal Human Rights as a member state of the United Nations Charter on Human and Individual rights.
“The act of the Sirleaf-led government to perpetually keep our paper closed without a genuine reason, has subjected us to abject poverty in the midst of the national health crisis.
This undemocratic attitude of the government to deny us our rights to work has therefore made us incapable to provide daily meals for our families in the wake of ongoing economic hardship,” the release noted.
According to the workers, the best and responsible thing this government should have done was to sue the entity if it had anything against the paper, in accordance with Article 21(b) of the 1986 Constitution, which reads, “No person shall be subject to search or seizure of his person or property, whether on a criminal charge or for any other purpose, unless upon warrant lawfully issued upon probable cause supported by a solemn oath or affirmation, specifically identifying the person or place to be searched and stating the object of the search; provided, however, that a search or seizure shall be permissible without a search warrant where the arresting authorities act during the commission of a crime or in hot pursuit of a person who has committed a crime.”
The staffs of the National Chronicle have therefore threatened a lawsuit against the government for their paper’s illegal closure, violation of their rights and illegal detention of two of their staffs, as well as the travel restriction placed on their publisher, Philipbert Brown, if the government fails to lift the ban on the paper.
The release mentioned Article 13(1 & 2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the United Nations Charter of human and individual rights as one of the fundamental rights denied their publisher, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country.”