“Media Subjected to Unjustified Attacks from Several Sources”

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The President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Abdullai K. Kamara, said in spite of efforts by the institution to regulate itself, Liberian media continues to be “subjected to unjustified attacks from several sources,” which he claimed has hampered the free press in Liberia.
At a press conference in Monrovia, Mr. Kamara said worse and increasingly in our society are the multi-million-dollar lawsuits being filed against journalists and media houses, referencing the US$4 million lawsuit against Journalist Octavin Williams, for allegedly injuring the reputation of businessman, Tony Lawal.
Mr. Kamara explained that in line with the civil lawsuit, Williams is obliged to produce a US$400,000 bond to secure his release from further pretrial detention. “This is punishment before judgment since it would arguably be difficult for even the President of Liberia to meet the accumulative value of Journalist Octavin Williams’ bond fee.”
He said many of the lawsuits filed against journalists are built in a fashion to jail the accused, adding that these kinds of suits are actually not intended to seek justice, but to silence the journalists or media into submission.
“We are not preventing people from taking recourse to the law, but we also do not believe that court actions should be unreasonable, making it impossible for people to have confidence in the court as a forum to gain justice. We must all agree that if people do not confide in the courts of law, they might be considering other options to secure justice,” Mr. Kamara stressed.
Despite the challenges, he said the PUL remains supportive of efforts including the passage of laws and the provision of facilities that strengthen opportunities for journalists to have access to information from various sources within the country and across the world.
“We are still determined to have the government abide by its declared commitments to decriminalize media offenses.”
He added, “In the last several weeks, the PUL had the unpleasant duty of instituting fines and suspensions on some of it own members, and will not hesitate to add others to this list when they operate in unsavory ways.”

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