Minneapolis, MN – The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is condemning in the strongest term the increased level of attacks against Liberian journalists by state security officers.
The Association warned that if left unchecked, the repeated attacks by security officers, who are paid and financed by Liberian tax payers, have the potential to erode the hard-earned freedom media practitioners currently enjoy in the country.
The Association, quoting media reports, declared that a number of journalists were assaulted and detained by agents of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) while providing coverage for a protest staged on Tuesday, March 3., 2020, in Monrovia by war crimes advocates led by Mr. Emmanuel Savice. The group is calling for the establishment of an Economic and War Crimes court in Liberia.
In a press release issued on Friday, March 6, 2020, ALJA says these reports also alleged that Journalist Salam Kaloko of Magic TV was flogged while his belongings and cash were seized by the EPS agents. The Association also, named Liberian journalist Aryee Davis of Truth FM as one of the victims of the EPS. Journalist Davis was reportedly detained and subsequently released following the intervention of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
The US Based diaspora organization said it is particularly disturbed that the EPS’ attacks come less than a week after the burial of Journalist Zenu Miller of Ok FM, who reported similar assault at the hands of some EPS officers in the full view of the agency’s Director in January of this year prior to his death.
As a result of the incident, the late journalist Miller repeatedly complained of pains in his chest and legs before his demise in February 2020. Before his death, the late Journalist filed a formal complaint to the PUL and Liberia’s Information Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe for a probe of the matter, but the case was never investigated.
ALJA says a week ago, Minister Nagbe publicly admitted that the late Miller complained the EPS to him for the physical assault suffered reportedly at the hands of some EPS officers, but the Liberian government failed to probe the allegation or give the deceased justice in the matter.
Then the Minister offered the government’s apology to the Miller family for its failure to investigate the fallen Journalist’s allegation. ALJA maintained that Minister Nagbe’s admission equates to a travesty of justice in the late Miller’s case.
Meanwhile, ALJA is calling on the Liberian government to collaborate with the PUL for an impartial probe into the EPS’ recent attacks on journalists Salam Kaloko of Magic TV and Aryee Davis of Truth FM. The Association said the recommended probe is necessary for the uncovering of truth in the matter.
ALJA said it is unfortunate that the EPS, which operations are financed by Liberian tax payers, would elect to become a law unto itself by repeatedly assaulting peaceful Liberians. The Association says the EPS’s outrageous acts are reminiscent of Liberia’s ugly past and they must be curtailed with immediacy.
ALJA noted the Liberian government and the media are not adversaries and they must work in unison for a stable and better Liberia. The organization says it perceives the continuous attack on the Liberian Media by security forces as a ploy to silence them and must be condemned by all Liberians
At the same time, ALJA is calling on Liberian journalists to remain fearless and professional in their reporting. ALJA further cautioned the Liberian media to assist in sustaining the Liberian peace and democracy by exercising due diligence in its reporting about happenings in the country.
According to media reports, security forces in the country have arrested and detained about seven journalists in the last two weeks alone across the country including Lofa, Rivercess and Montserrado counties. ALJA says the attack on the Liberian Media by State security forces continues to create a gloomy cloud over Press Freedom
ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It is a 501c (3) non-profit organization. The Association was founded in 1998 and is committed to advancing press freedom through media capacity building and the fostering of good governance in Liberia through media advocacy.