Safety of Journalists Must Be Ensured, Says PUL President

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In wake of constant electoral violence permeating in Liberia, especially during this pending midterm senatorial election, the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has called on the Government to ensure the safety of journalists across the country who are covering the election.

Charles Coffey who spoke via mobile during a local radio talk show on Monday, September 14, said that considering that elections are always associated with violence, it is important that the Government take drastic measures on individuals who may be found to instigate violence.

“There are reported attacks on journalists and we think that this wave of violence that is permeating in our country is uncontrollable and if nothing is done to arrest the situation it shall undermine the electoral process,” he said.

Liberians are expected to turn out for the polls come December 8, 2020 to elect 15 senators from the various counties to represent their constituents in the Legislature. The election also coincides with a referendum that called for the amendment of certain provisions of the country’s constitution.   

According to Coffey, journalists need not to become intimidated to stop them from exposing the ills in the society.

He stated that the current electoral process is fully being monitored by journalists who are using all of the methodologies of reporting to adequately inform the public.

Coffey also called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to institute measures to ensure that politicians do not go ahead to campaign without the stipulated schedule.

“The NEC has not opened campaign officially and it is discovered that some politicians’ actions are instigating instability,” he stated.

He further mentioned that what is so scary is that security forces who should provide protection for the citizens failed to perform their duties accordingly.

“And what is very scary is that the security of our country is there to provide security for the citizens and are not doing so,” he said.

“Few days ago there was armed robbery at the Press Union headquarters, where they burglarized the institution properties and during the same week the arm robbers burglarized the shop of a Fula merchant as well as held some citizens at gunpoint,” he explained.

“If you listened to the various radio stations across the country, you will hear that the citizens are complaining about the increasing crime rate and so we need the government to act now,” he emphasized.

The PUL President has also called stakeholders, political and religious leaders to get involved in putting to an end the increasing violence unfolding in the country.

1 COMMENT

  1. That perceptions of partisanship can imperil safety of journalists became evident in several U.S cities during the height of Blacklivesmatters protests. Ironically, PUL has yet to realize it can help quell the sense of national disorder. For instance, on February 25, 2019, when the offices of UN, EU, AU, and ECOWAS In Monrovia jointly warned against “media messages that promote violence”, President Charles Coffee should’ve laid down the four key journalistic standards for media outlets to behave better. Of course, he could’ve leveraged recertification.

    Unfortunately, his response to a rational suggestion from an international community that brought about “relative peace” to a fragile postwar country, and still spends money for her maintenance was unreasonably defensive and combative. Two months later, a mob burnt down a police station in Margibi County on the dubious excuse that detectives released a murder suspect, and up to today the public can only guess resolution of an arson which symbolized resistance to constituted authority.

    It brings me to my main point: Impunity.

    Although crimes are symptoms of poor parenting, poverty, etc., they can be reduced when the costs outweigh benefits through police and public cooperating to meet ends of justice. However, if you have a legislator and others threatening to make ungovernable a country of over 4 million with less than 40, 000 officers, that milieu of militancy undermines effective policing. Media outlets are businesses, they can hire bodyguards, or help the police by just being professional. But the law of supply and demand makes one officer to one journalist an impossibility.

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