The Weah Government Must Stop Beating, Harassing Journalists

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… and institute an immediate enquiry into these atrocities

The Government of President George Weah, little over two years in office—2018-2020—has already spoilt its name within the nation’s media because of its continued harassment and brutality against the press and Liberian journalists.

What kind of government do we have in Liberia that seems to have no idea of how to treat the press with civility and respect?

Instead, the government, led by its many security forces, are in the constant habit of brutalizing journalists while performing their professional journalistic duties.

This led the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to stage a popular demonstration yesterday through the streets of Monrovia to present a forthright Petition to the Liberian government, complaining of the harassment and intimidation of journalists, detailing various incidents and calling on the Weah government to commission a transparent and broad-based investigation of the accused security agencies and their officers complicit in these wonton human rights violations, with the view to penalize those who will be found guilty.”

The PUL demo marched to several international organizations, including the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and several foreign embassies, including those of the United States and the European Union.

In its statement, copies of which were circulated to the United Nations, the European Union and several embassies, the PUL also called on members of the international community to bring pressure to bear on the Weah administration immediately to commission an investigation into this police and other security brutality against the Liberian media and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Some of the many journalists harassed and brutalized by the police include Zenu Miller (deceased) of OK FM; Christopher Walker of Front Page Africa; James Kadi, The News Newspaper; Aryee Davies, Truth FM; Josephine Seekey of Sky FM; Kolubah  Akoi, freelance journalist; and Benjamin Toby Johnson of Cyclone Newspaper.

Others were Salam Kuloko of Maggie Online TV; Methuselah Gaye of Fabric Radio’ and Kennedy Koloh, manager, River Cess Broadcasting System.

PUL also makes a clarion call to international media advocacy and human rights organizations, including the Center to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Freedom House (FH), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Press Institute (IPI) and their partners to bring pressure to bear on the Weah Administration to set up this probe and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice and stop the intimidation of the press.

The PUL has made its case and we at the Daily Observer call on the Weah government immediately to set up this probe and not rest until all the facts are made known and all GOL officials and officers implicated are brought to justice.

Remember, we in the media are not working for ourselves but for the people. We serve a public duty to keep the people informed, educated and entertained.

Leave us to do our duty and to do it to the best of our ability and in the public interest.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I like you guys, but loves stable Liberia more.

    Frankly speaking, a media space that ignores key standards of impartiality, accuracy, fairness, and accountability would have trust issues even in the Vatican City. Imagine, then, ours that allegedly depends on adversarial relationship with government to increase profitability. That the private press is a business and relies on market forces can’t be lost on owners and employees of media outlets which scream their self-assigned “working-for-the-people” refrain.

    In April 2018, this administration got a welcoming carpet of weeds from pay-to-play journalist Rodney Sieh after he complained bitterly of Mayor Kojee’s ingratitude for saying that the new government wouldn’t be dictated to by journalists. Shortly after, former Daily Observer type-setter turned-BBC “operative” Jonathan Paylelay, supposedly embedded with NPFL in deafening silence for over a century, emerged from his cave to question GMW about a war crime court.

    And in spite of the fact that GMW had proposed decriminalizing the press laws, Radio Station operator Kailondo without an iota of evidence accused government of murdering young journalist Trayon Browne. Incredibly, never mind the murderer was caught and charged, none retracted earlier false allegations. It made the February 25, 2019 joint statement of the UN, ECOWAS and AU’s warning against “media messages that promote violence” sounded like an old record, and Rodney Sieh’s calling for street protests on a talkshow not unusual.

    In as much as I doubt it, rumors are rife that the newest pre-Senatorial elections’ strategy for rabble-rousing tacticians is incentivizing interested journalists and other members of civil society to provoke confrontation. Government should therefore establish an Office of Ombudsman to track, investigate, and evaluate all human rights allegations whether from journalists or others. The desperation of detractors to derail the course of concord by “tearing the country apart” shouldn’t be underestimated.

  2. Sylvester, like you, I too love a stable Liberia. But, a stable Liberia cannot be had by brutalizing journalists to get them to coward into submission to bad governance. The men and women of the press should be ever vigilant in their duty of informing the public of newsworthy happenings in our country. Journalists should do their job without any fear of brutality or harassment. Of course I am not saying that journalists have the cart blanche to conduct themselves however they want. If journalists are found to be in violation of the law, we should use the courts to establish their guilt/liabilities and impose lawful sanctions.

  3. Social responsibility and professional standards come before rights and freedoms. Outlawing, downplaying, or ignoring, abuses of journalists’ freedom when journalists advocate discrimination, as paid agents for losers of election who are bent on reversing the democratic choice of the majority, MUST NEVER BE ALLOWED!

    FOR EVERY SOCIETY OR GOVERNMENT has a right to preserve public peace and order, and therefore has a NECESSARY AND good right to prohibit propagation of ABUSES and VIOLATIONS, especially when such abuses and violations threaten the safety and happiness of the people and by extension, national security and national interest of the nation. and its sovereignty.

    It is as simple as that!

  4. Journalists even the international community has absolutely no respect for as a result of THEIR DELIBERATE LIES AND UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT, should be handled as the government of Rwanda has tamed Rwandan journalists. And the result has been peace, stability, development, and progress, for Rwanda.

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