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SLAJ condemns sustained attacks on the media in Sierra Leone

SLAJ condemns sustained attacks on the media in Sierra Leone

Wednesday October 23, – The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is appalled by the sustained attack on the media and media practitioners over the past seven (7) days.

This action we now believe may not be unconnected with the threat issued on the Sierra Leone media some months ago by senior state functionaries. Over the past six (6) days five (5) media houses and eleven (11) media practitioners have been arrested, interrogated and some detained by police officers.

Starting with the arrest and subsequent detention of editors Jonathan Leigh and Bai-Bai Sesay of the Independent Observer newspaper last Friday 18th October; the searching of Premier Media offices and arrest and detention of the head printer; invitation by the Police on Wednesday 23rd October of the editors and publishers of the Global Times, Sheik Bawoh and Sorie Fofanah, and Salone Times newspaper’s Donald Theo Harding, Thomas Dixon and proprietor Andrew Keilli; to the search on Tuesday night 22nd October of the offices and printing press of the Concord Times newspaper.

“This is an attack on the press which has not been seen since the end of the war,” says SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis.

After a peaceful protest march involving over 50 journalists to the Police, along with the invitees, the Police with the intervention of the Information Minister Alpha Kanu – who disclosed that he was acting under instructions by President Koroma – the six media practitioners and proprietors invited for interrogation of having libeled Sylvia Blyden were unconditionally released.

Journalists Jonathan Leigh and Bai-Bai Sesay were on Wednesday 23rd October charged with 26 counts of seditious and defamatory Libel against President Ernest Bai Koroma, and had their bail application denied by Magistrate Komba Kamanda on grounds of “repetition”. The case is adjourned to Tuesday 29th October 2013.

“It is a sad day for democracy. The journalists’ Human Rights have been violated by unconstitutionally detaining them for more than three days and as such this government can no longer lay claim to any human rights record again,” says Mr. Lewis.

Long live SLAJ!  Long live Journalism!  Long live Press Freedom!

SLAJ, Freetown

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