PUL Rejects GOL New Access Passes

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PUL president Charles Coffey (center) says the Union sees as a complete violation of the MOU reached between its leadership and the government, Minister Fahngon’s decision to unilaterally accredit journalists to cover the COVID-19 pandemic in isolation of the PUL.

The plenary of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has resolved that its members will continue the use of their appropriate institutional and the Union identity cards at all times to carry out their duties, instead of the new passes from the government as indicated by the Deputy Minister of Information Eugene Fahngon.

The plenary, the highest decision-making body of the PUL, unanimously reached the decision on Friday, May 8, 2020, at a mass meeting presided over by the Union’s president, Charles B. Coffey, at its headquarters in Monrovia.

At the meeting, plenary did not only reject the action of the government through the Deputy Information Minister to restrict the movements of journalists but says it is a clear attempt to undermine the role of media in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Union’s president Coffey said the action of the government to restrict journalists runs contrary to the warning of the United Nations Secretary-General in his statement marking this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Coffey warned that the government will be held responsible for any harm and intimidation suffered by journalists and media workers during the discharge of their duties in the face of the current threats through the Deputy Minister Fahngon.

He said the Union sees as a complete violation of the MOU reached between its leadership and the government, Minister Fahngon’s decision to unilaterally accredit journalists to cover the COVID-19 pandemic in isolation of the PUL.

Coffey said the PUL remains open to constructive engagements and discussions with the government in the interest of the mutual understanding that should be existing between the two sides and encourages its members to continue to use their official working and PUL accreditation cards to carry on their functions.

Resolution Reached by the membership

At the meeting the plenary, bearing in mind the growing threat posed by the Coronavirus pandemic and the need for a unified approach involving all key stakeholders including the media, emerged with a five-count resolution that was submitted to the government on Friday, May 8, via email as well as hard copy.

The resolution also focused on the essential role played by the media in past and recent national crises; underscored that without the adequate involvement of media workers in national initiatives, such as the ongoing fight against the global pandemic, all efforts could be thwarted.

The resolution also highlighted the Union’s concern that threats and actions like those perpetrated by Deputy Minister Fahngon and Liberia’s Solicitor General, Saymah Cyrenius Cephus, have the tendency of undermining every effort at ensuring an oneness of purpose in facing and defeating the pandemic.

Deputy Information Minister, Eugene Fahngon

The five-count resolution states “that journalists and media workers will continue the use of their appropriate institutional and PUL identity cards at all times to carry out their duties; that the government of Liberia will be held responsible for any harm and intimidation suffered by journalists and media workers during the discharge of their duties in the face of the current threats from the deputy minister of Information, Eugene Fahngon; that the Union sees as a complete violation of the MOU reached between its leadership and the government, Minister Fahngon’s decision to unilaterally accredit journalists to cover the COVID-19 pandemic in isolation of the PUL.”

The resolution also notes “that the government’s action to restrain and restrict the movements of journalists runs contrary to the UN Secretary-General’s warning on this year’s World Press Freedom Day against restricting the media during this pandemic and the Union remains open to any constructive engagements and discussions with the government in the interest of the mutual understanding that should be existing between the two sides and encourages its members to continue to use their official working and PUL accreditation cards to carry on their functions.”

It may be recalled the Minister Fahngon has on countless occasions accused the union’s president of duplicating the access passes indented for journalists. Fahngon has said at the Ministry of Health regular COVID-19 update that while printing the first Passes, his office went out of power and he instructed that they continue the printing of the passes the next morning.

He said to his surprise the next morning, he called Mr. Coffey to continue the printing of the passes but was told that the process was already completed.

“We are not going to have girlfriend, truck and taxi drivers having our passes around here but journalists. The passes were compromised and mass printed,” Fahngon said.

Fahngon in a threat to the media in a Facebook live video said, “They know what they did; that is the reason why they are refusing to change the passes. If you are owning a media institution and do not want to be embarrassed, come and change your passes or get ready to live in the PUL country, not the Republic of Liberia. Take one of these old passes and get in the street and we will see, I hope he has his own passes.”

Author

  • Hannah N. Geterminah is a 2016 graduate of the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism with diploma and series of certificates in journalism from other institutions. She has lots of knowledge/ experience in human interest, political, Health, women and children stories. Hannah has worked with the Daily Observers Newspaper and the Liberian media for the past years and has broken many stories. Contact reporter; [email protected] WhatsApp;0770214920

16 COMMENTS

  1. Thank God, Charles Coffey and PUL have finally developed the spine to stand up to dictators: Eugene Fahngon and Saymah Cyrenius Cephus. The rag-tag brutal security force of Liberia is beating, killing and brutalizing its own citizens and these two spineless gentlemen want to cover it up by silencing the media. Dictators: Eugene Fahngon and Saymah Cyrenius Cephus, a word to the wise is sufficient. “Those who the gods wish to destroy, they must first make mad with power.”

    • These so called half-educated journalists or their PUL, should stop disgracing themselves and behave! Social responsibility comes before media rights and freedom!! The myth of the free press in the service of society exists because it is in the interests of media owners to perpetuate it, and not in the interests of the rest of society!

      Therefore, every society or jurisdiction has the OBLIGATION AND THE RIGHT to preserve public safety, peace and order, and therefore has a good right to prohibit the propagation of conducts which have a dangerous or sabotaging tendency tantamount to be anathema and dangerous to the national interest and national security!

      Accordingly, it is not the magistrate that has such a right or obligation to carry out certain restraints or prohibition especially during a state of emergency!

      Rather, it is the government of that society which has such rights and powers which MAY NOT BE ENJOYABLE to CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS (The Press, The Church, the Family, etc.etc.), but is politically, legally, and legitimately right for THE PROTECTION OF THE REST OF SOCIETY!

      Therefore, these so called half-educated journalists or their PUL, should stop disgracing themselves and behave! For in the end the protection of the rest of society precedes a portion of the rest of society, just as the protection of society precedes individual rights and freedoms and the rights and freedoms of other institutions ( eg. the Church, Business, the Family, Marriage, etc.etc) of the given society or jurisdiction! AND IT IS THE OBLIGATION OF THE SOVEREIGN JURISDICTION TO PROTECT THE REST OF SOCIETY!

  2. By God Eugene Faghon what is your problem? You’re the worst public threat to Mama Liberia more even armed zogos. What is really your problem? Why are you fighting and undermining the very republic you’ve taken an oath to protect? Aye God, your case is different oh. From one foolish and senseless policy to another, you’re working hard to enslave our people for reasons only known to you. Who the heck you think you are? A god? Your was created to work in harmony with stakeholders in the media and other information-related establishments. Now, just for an issue like a common pass, you’re throwing threats due to your limited scope of how you understand diplomacy and forging a true partnership with the fourth estate. Who the heck are you, Faghon? Be warned: don’t trouble Liberia, or she will return the same favor! Stop your day threats and learn the art of good governance and diplomacy.

  3. These so called half-educated journalists or their PUL, should stop disgracing themselves and behave! Social responsibility comes before media rights and freedom!! The myth of the free press in the service of society exists because it is in the interests of media owners to perpetuate it, and not in the interests of the rest of society!

    Therefore, every society or jurisdiction has the right to preserve public safety, peace and order, and therefore has a good right to prohibit the propagation of conducts which have a dangerous or sabotaging tendency tantamount to be anathema and dangerous to the national interest and national security!

    Accordingly, it is not the magistrate that has such a right to carry out certain restraints or prohibition especially during a state of emergency!

    Rather, it is the government of that society which has such rights and powers which MAY NOT BE ENJOYABLE to CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS (The Press, The Church, the Family, etc.etc.), but is politically, legally, and legitimately right for THE PROTECTION OF THE REST OF SOCIETY!

    Therefore, these so called half-educated journalists or their PUL, should stop disgracing themselves and behave! For in the end the protection of the rest of society precedes a portion of the rest of society, just as the protection of society precedes individual rights and freedoms and the rights and freedoms of other institutions ( eg. the Church, Business, the Family, Marriage, etc.etc) of the given society or jurisdiction!

  4. Liberia is just another country to see,eugene faghon is too irresponsible to be an assistant Information minister, this guy has said so many reckless words and makes lots of threats against citizens of this country he should have been sacked long time,but anyway these things happen we you elect incompetent and corrupt leaders in society

    • You “Johnson Freeman”, you are wrong. We have observed that Liberian for quite some time now! Eugene Shannon is a master of the theories and practice of mass communications. He has over the years asserted and demonstrated the excellence of communication viz government domestic and international relations, public policy, and the art of serving the State through the Executive Branch!

      Have you any knowledge about such tenets or concepts or issues, about media structure and performance, principles and accountability within the information sphere? You people want to bad-mouth a popular government, when you know absolutely nothing about politics, governance, or public policy, not to talk about the dynamics of mass communications and public international relations.

    • I agree with you 100% , Mr. Zoedjallah! What an immature, irresponsible, and dishonest, press needs is AN EXTREMELY HARSH TREATMENT as is the case in Rwanda and other parts within the comity and community of nations!

  5. For a chronically irresponsible, and unprofessional, PRESS which, in its vendetta driven, and bribe -to – lie modus vivendi and modus operandi, and lacks the individual and collective will, sensibility, conscience, and intellect, when it comes to been able to separate fact from comment, or transparency about sources, the only treatment they deserve is that which has been appropriated for the Rwandan Press by the Government of Rwanda – the darling of the major powers and the international and global diplomatic community in toto viz its foreign policy on Africa!

  6. I thought the information provided above were all related to the Liberian Press. I’m not so sure if those commenting on this article clearly understand the issue under discussion. An emotional responses to such critical issue of freedom of press in Liberia will certainly help our cause.

    • Leewaye, why you hardly make sense, but still want to gallop into every discussion; and then worst of all, jump to conclusion? What sort of grammar or logic is this:” “An emotional responses to such critical issue of freedom of press in Liberia will certainly help our cause.”

      “An emotional responses”?

  7. Unfortunately, some only comment rubbish to continuously back and support the irrational attitude of this unqualified Deputy Minister. Praise singers are everywhere doing what they’ve got to do to survive. The press is the fourth estate and indeed watchdog of society. If during this critical moment of our times, these journalists sacrifice their lives to unearth wrongs being perpetrated by state’s security forces against citizens, and report on the pandemic (which is what we expect from them), why are belleh driven people so apprehensive and acting as though it’s not the right thing to do??? This incompetent Deputy minister should just shut his mouth, stop all his foolishness and allow journalists do their work unimpeded and they the government remedy those ills that will be brought to public hearing and foreview instead of trying to proof what he’s actually not. Too many fake people in this government.

    • I really appreciate and cherish this statement infra from the Deputy Minister of Information of the Republic of Liberia – Deputy Information Minister, Eugene Fahngon:

      “They know what they did; that is the reason why they are refusing to change the passes. If you are owning a media institution and do not want to be embarrassed, come and change your passes or get ready to live in the PUL country, not the Republic of Liberia. Take one of these old passes and get in the street and we will see, I hope he has his own passes.”

      And that is the fact from any amount of extrapolations! “They know what they did; that is the reason why they are refusing to change the passes.” IF YOU KNOW YOUR HANDS ARE CLEAN, GO AND COLLECT THE NEWLY MADE PASS!

      ITS POINTLESS REFUSING TO CHANGE THE PASSES!

      And this is what Sylvester Moses does not understand or pretends not to understand; and minutes ago upon entering the site, I saw his nonsensical crap!

  8. If PUL’s Cuffey is correct in implying that a memorandum of understanding between them and government includes consultations on matters pertaining to journalists, leaving the organization out of the loop in accreditation for COVID-19 coverage was ill-advised. Granted that social distancing protocols dictate fewer journalists outside, especially, during lockdowns, it isn’t the duty of government to decide who those should be. Please, neither PUL nor MOI should draw a line in the sand; refer to the MOU and do whatever necessary during this crisis.

    • Sylvester Moses, what sort of thought is this from you?: “Granted that social distancing protocols dictate fewer journalists outside, especially, during lockdowns, it isn’t the duty of government to decide WHO those should be.”

      Of course the government or a government would never get into the business of deciding which age, RACE, complexion, sex/gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, membership of a social group, mindset, mentality, nor even which reporter, editor, etc.etc. should go on the assignment or go on “the beat”.

      But of course, it is THE OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE that it is assigned journalists and assigned journalists alone, “WHO THOSE SHOULD BE”! And not persons who are not journalists, but are “girlfriend, truck and taxi drivers, errand boys of Charles Coffey etc. etc. or relations of media heads holding such passes!

      So, my friend, you need to have a rethink!

  9. Sylvester Moses, we hope the so called MOU between the government and the PUL could be publicized, so that inter alia, people like you who want to be seen as saintly, hence cannot call a spade a spade would be unable to base your comment on the hypothetical of “IF” used to conceal your hypocrisy! But even if the so called MOU were to be publicized, you should acknowledge the legal and governing principle of REBUS SIC STANTIS BUS.

    In other words, you know very well even if there was an understanding reached “between PUL and government which included consultations on matters pertaining to journalists,” once the sovereign government has discovered abuses on the part of the other party – whether PUL or any entity, the sovereign government has the right and powers to discourage, forestall, and prevent, such abuses perpetrated by the other party – in this case this irresponsible PUL which lacks integrity.

    So, your reasoning and or conclusion that “Granted that social distancing protocols dictate fewer journalists outside, especially, during lockdowns, it isn’t the duty of government to decide who those should be” IS VERY SILLY especially from someone who prides himself on being concerned about the law of public order and public safety, even if this werent a lockdown or a State of Emergency.

    Accordingly, your conclusion that “neither PUL nor MOI should draw a line in the sand; refer to the MOU and do whatever necessary during this crisis” is absolutely hypocritical, lackadaisical, frivolous, and extremely silly!

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