The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) says it is concerned about the security of the independent Daily Observer Newspaper after the paper alarmed about two separate incidents of threats against some of its staff.
In an open letter to Justice Minister, Cllr. F. Musah Dean, on Monday, October 13, 2020, the paper informed the Attorney General that it recognized the suspicious happenings of threats.
The Daily Observer narrated that its vehicle was followed in the early hours of Friday, October 9, 2020, during a usual round, to drop off employees in central Monrovia after production of the Friday Edition.
In the open letter, the Observer stressed that a grey unlicensed Nissan Pathfinder with all tinted windshield up, slowed down near the paper’s vehicle on the opposite side of the street, on Crown Hill, for some seconds. The staffer closed up the car and observed the Gray Pathfinder and when its passengers realized they had been noticed, they drove away.
According to the Observer driver, he first noticed the Pathfinder tailing his vehicle from the neighborhood of Orange Liberia on Capitol By-pass. He said, they kept a steady distance but it was only when they stopped to drop off another colleague, that he found the situation suspicious.
Another Observer reporter disclosed that on Thursday, October 8, he received a phone call from an unknown number. The person on the other end of the call was a man who did not identify himself, and he said: “I know you very well; you are [called our reporter’s full name] right?” The reporter responded, “Yes.”
The man continued: “You work for Daily Observer. You guys are doing a good job. Keep it up. Keep it up”, the strange man said in a sarcastic tone.
Following the occurrence of these two incidents, the Press Union of Liberia is now urging the Liberia National Police and other state security forces to provide protection for journalists during the special senatorial electioneering period.
The union is also urging politicians and all consumers of media contents in Liberia to be tolerant in contributing to open societal discourse, which is tied to democratic development.
Meanwhile, the PUL is urging all journalists to refrain from endorsements of candidates in the special senatorial elections and stop campaigning as doing so will impede their credibility and make them susceptible to violence.