Citing Criminal Procedure Law, MICAT reacts to Radio Bushrod’s 48-hr ultimatum
After the Management of D-15 Radio issued a two-day ultimatum to the Government of Liberia to provide the indictment that could substantially ban talk show host, Henry P. Costa, from relaying his daily podcast, The Costa Show, on the local radio station, the Government of Liberia, through the Information Ministry, says said ultimatum is considered as a form of threat and therefore the station’s Management should reconsider the gravity of such statement as it has the potential to undermine the rule of law and create unnecessary tension.
According to a release issued on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, signed by Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, the government “has read with deep concern a newspaper publication attributed to the Management of Radio Bushrod (D-15 Radio), giving the Government a 48-hour ultimatum to publish an indictment drawn against Mr. Henry Pedro Costa or it will go ahead to grant him air time on their platform.
“The Government seriously considers such ultimatum as a form of threat and calls on the Management of D-15 FM Station to reconsider the gravity of such statement which has the potential to undermine the rule of law and create unnecessary tension,” the release indicated.
The government reaction comes a day after the Daily Observer published a story in its Tuesday edition, titled: “D-15 Radio Gives Gov’t 48-hr Ultimatum to Publish Costa’s Indictment,” after an exclusive interview with Tomreen Kennedy, station manager, Radio Bushrod (also known as D-15 FM).
The latest statement by MICAT quotes Liberia’s Criminal Procedure Law, specifically Title 2, Liberian Codes of Law revised, Chapter 15, section 15.14(2) titled: “Secrecy of proceedings,” which states that: “Disclosure concerning indictment before arrest — Except to the extent necessary for the issuance and execution of a warrant of arrest or summons, no person shall disclose the finding of an indictment until the person charged therein is in custody or has given bail. A violation of this provision shall be punishable as contempt of court.”
“Pursuant to the provision of the Criminal Procedure Law, the Government is under no legal obligation whatsoever to unveil an indictment drawn against a Liberian citizen until the person named in the indictment is arrested. Moreover, Mr. Henry Costa was undergoing investigation for laissez-passer fraud at the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) under the custody of the law when his counsel, Findley Karnga signed for, and obtained Costa’s living body, with the firm assurance of producing him whenever he was needed but has not been seen since then,” the statement said.
Minister Rennie said the Government of Liberia therefore calls on Cllr. Karnga to make good his promise to unconditionally turn over Mr. Henry Costa to the Liberian Immigration Service.
He said that the Government of Liberia reminds all media institutions that while it will do nothing to stifle free speech, it will not, however, submit to any form of blackmail under the pretext of exercising freedom of expression, stressing, “The D-15 Management ought to therefore carefully reconsider its ultimatum.”