To safeguard journalists and news entities coverage of the planned June 7 “peaceful protest,” the Liberia National Police (LNP) has promised to provide security for reporters on duty during the event, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) said in a release.
According to the release, Police Inspector General Patrick T. Sudue gave the assurance shortly after meeting the PUL leadership on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Monrovia.
“The police shall protect all (local and foreign) journalists throughout the protest.”
Sudue however cautioned journalists to work on their visibility to avoid any situation of mistaken identity when gathering news about the protest.
He then announced a ban on the deployment of armed police officers throughout the June 7 protest.
Meanwhile, IG Sudue has expressed fear of “assets on the loose” referencing terrorist groups operating in West Africa that the protesters should be mindful of the possible unexpected presence during the exercise, because terrorists target large groups of people in one location.
PUL President Charles B. Coffey, Jr. stressed the need for the safety of journalists, and the aligning duty of the police to ensure the safety of the reporters, while covering public events such as rallies and protests.
Coffey said it was important that the PUL and LNP officers innovate ideas that will avoid violence against journalists during the mass gathering of people on June 7.
The United Nations Security Council passed a historic resolution in 2006, calling for an end to impunity against journalists, and the subsequent 2012 action of major UN agencies to arrive at a comprehensive ‘Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists.’
In the wake of the June 7 protest, the United Nations and West African Regional Envoys, have been holding separate meetings with the Weah Administration and the Council of Patriots (protest organizers) in an effort to ensure that the country’s laws are upheld as fundamental human rights.
In a related development, the release said PUL leadership is worried about the worsening contraction of the media economy.
“The Union is sickened by the decline in advertisement flow to the traditional media in the country,” the release said.
But Coffey said the deteriorating state of revenue intake in the media can be related to government sanctioning advertisements on the Executive Mansion Website.
Mr. Coffey wants government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), development partners, private and public financial institutions to contribute to stimulating advertisement in the traditional media in Liberia as means for helping journalism to survive.
“It is important that government settle its indebtedness with Media institutions, because these are small businesses, which now find it difficult to operate in the absence of low energy supply in the country.”