Dear President Charles Coffey
I write to express sadness and disappointment that the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia has been so relaxed in pursuing the concerns of media people as contained in a statement of complaint presented to President George Weah nearly two years ago, following a string of assaults on media people by state actors. And these attacks have continued to date.
I need not remind you, President Coffey and officials, that journalists are working under extremely difficult circumstances in Liberia --- many of them working with no real salaries and incentives. But in spite of their situations, they have been there for all governments coming to power, promoting and highlighting positive happenings in government.
Journalists have unconditionally responded to invitations from state actors, including covering the weekly Ministry of Information press gatherings; they have taken interest in media invitations from officials even if what’s meant to be a gathering to discuss real issues ends up a mere lecture session like we’ve seen in recent times. They do so because they are under professional obligation to disseminate essential information to the consuming public.
Media people have followed President George Weah on his tours of the country, many of them putting aside critical reportage to highlight the president’s positive engagements with the citizenry. This is social responsibility.
But journalists need to be safe and secure to continue to work for the public. Their concerns, especially when it comes to issues affecting their safety, have to be taken seriously.
As I write, we are at a loss with the outcome of the work of the Laurence Bropleh Committee set up to look into a chain of complaints of assaults on journalists put before President Weah.
In view of these, President Coffey, I urge you and your able leadership to act as quickly as possible to ensure that the communication detailing assaults on media people and presented to President Weah in February 2020 is responded to.
I wish I didn’t have to add, but Mr. President, let me state that if no action is taken by the leadership of the PUL in time to ensure that the issue is put to rest and some real response is generated from the presidency, I will lead a campaign that could get a huge chunk of the membership of the PUL to suspend their engagements with the Union until the issue has been addressed.
The Press Union of Liberia is dear to us, but we need to be taken seriously and be safe to work for the common good of the public we serve. I am of the conviction that as a listening leader, you will take this matter seriously and start engaging the office of President Weah to respond to us.
Thanks so kindly for your attention
Member and former official, PUL