These are some of the major challenges journalists face
Journalists in Sierra Leone recognise so many problems today with government. It is clearly unacceptable that journalists were arrested by Criminal Investigation Division police because the Ministry of Lands ordered the arrest, the dangers Journalists face are greater than usual but what government should know is that journalists engaged in dangerous professional areas , according to my research – as freelance journalist, is the fundamental aspect of citizenship in any country concerns the access to information regarding political and societal developments and the opportunity to hear variety of opinions. Central to the practice of journalism an essential aspect of human rights for all citizens is the freedom of expression. At the international level this is protected under the following declarations, conventions, and charters: Art. 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights rules that Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The European Convention on Human Rights states in Art. 10.1 that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states in Art. 11 that:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
European countries have specific Acts relating to freedom of expression, or freedom of the press, or freedom of the media. In the whole of African countries there is no freedom of expression. Some of the major challenges and problems journalists face are enormous.
- Libel Law is a major challenge journalists face – Under the Libel Law a journalists can be dragged to court and convicted as a common criminal.
- The police are very brutal with journalists – Whenever a journalist tries to cover a sensitive event, the police will arrest the journalist and beat him up ruthlessly.
- The present government uses thugs to raid offices of journalists, beat them up and vandalise their office, whenever the journalists write against them.
- Politicians use people to even kill journalists if a journalist is very critical about them.
- A journalist either goes by what the government says or risks being killed.
- There is no freedom of information law in the country, and with libel law, a journalist can be convicted as a criminal even when you write the truth as long as that truth has the propensity to damage a person’s private life.
by Freelance Journalist Samuel Henry Taylor
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