Reporters Union Condemn Sylvia Blyden over threats to jail journalists
The attention of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) has been drawn to persistent threats emanating from the Office of the President, State House, against Journalists in Sierra Leone. For the past one week, the Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to the President, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, has been posting on the social media and newspapers, especially in her Awareness Times newspaper, threats to invoke provisions of the draconian Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act against Journalists. (Photo: Saidu Bah, Secretary General , Sierra Leone Reporters Union )
In a desperate attempt to instill unnecessary fear in Journalists and to cow them into submission, the Presidential Aide has been trumpeting all over the place a plan by the Government to jail Journalists using libel provisions provided in the 1965 Public Order Act.
The SLRU totally and unequivocally condemns the State House threats to use criminal and seditious libel laws against journalists; as such threats are tantamount to muzzling press freedom.
It is very much unacceptable and barbaric for any government of this century to attempt to force journalists to succumb to intimidation and harassment. The very fact that the government is threatening to drag journalists to court on libel charges is also undermining the existence of the Independent Media Commission (IMC); the institution that was set up by law to regulate the media in Sierra Leone.
The SLRU is however ready to collaborate with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), the parent body of journalists in Sierra Leone, to standby any journalist the government is planning to victimize under the provisions that criminalize the journalism profession.
The aforementioned notwithstanding, we are calling on all Journalists to practice within the ethics of journalism and the law.
Saidu Bah, Secretary General , Sierra Leone Reporters Union
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