ALJA Ends 6th National Convention, Calls for Halt to Political Harassment Against Liberian Journalists

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The President of the Association of Liberian Journalists in Americas (ALJA), Joe Mason, has described as appalling the constant security harassment, political suppression, and financial inducement against journalists in Liberia.

Mr. Mason said these challenges are causing media transgressions and called for a halt to such activities by actors mainly politicians and the government of Liberia.

“Too often, ethical  principles and professionalism are sacrifices on an altar of survival, many professionals are also fleeing the profession for other careers.”

ALJA’s President Joe Mason

Mr. Mason expressed disappointment that the Presidential committee set up to investigate harassment against journalists by state securities has achieved nothing as some members of the committee have resigned.

He said the media continues to play a crucial role in holding the government accountable, stressing that in a democratic country, laws must apply to all, and such is not happening in Liberia.

The ALJA President speaking at this year’s 6th national convention of the association which was held virtually under team: The Media, the Rule of Law, and the Culture of Impunity in Liberia, said, the gathering was aimed at discussing ways to tackle the manic and puffer suggestions to the government and other actors.

“We are playing lip service to the rule of law and perpetrators of crimes are not prosecute,” Mr. Mason said.

The ALJA President also said, the media in Liberia is facing challenges ranging from training, finances and  many  journalists earn little or no cash to commensurate with their duties, saying  “limited pay for media post a serious threat to Liberia’s democracy which depends on an independent and uncompromising media for it to drive.”

In his opening remarks, ALJA’s President Joe Mason said due to the COVILD-19 Pandemic, they were constrained to conduct the virtue convention aimed at protecting the safety of its members.

Emphasizing the significance of the association Mr. Mason said, ALJA aimed at promoting, strengthening media workings in Liberia, and will serve as a strong voice that will speak against ills in society and puffer suggestions.

Since taking over the leadership of the largest body of Liberian Journalists in the Americas, Mr. Mason outline some of his achievements as, advocating for Liberian journalists, speaking against ills in society, revamping, forming several ALJA’s chapters, and providing COVID-19 relief funding to Liberian journalists amongst others.

He said ALJA members raised over $3000.00USD (three thousand USD) that went towards the purchase of food and non-food items including rice, cooking oil, facemask for journalists in Liberia.

“Thou the value amount was not astronomical, we took pride in this effort to be our brother’s keeper, to see our commitment to you our colleagues based on the relationship and bounds over many years, based on shared experiences,” Journalist Mason said.

He said ALJA under this leadership will remain engaging all sectors in seeking opportunities, building, developing the skills, and improving the welfare of journalists mainly in Liberia.

He wants journalists who are not part of the network to join in order to keep supporting the workings of their colleagues back home and fostering unity and networking with their colleagues in the diaspora.

Mr. Mason lauded the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL)Mr. Charles Coffey, Center for Media Study and Peacebuilding boss, Malcom Joseph, Kreative Mindz Television, Liberian Public Radio, FrontPage Africa, New Public Trust Media, other media entities, and individuals for their efforts in promoting ALJA’s works.

 He said most professional journalists are leaving the profession due to greener pasture something saying it is not right, but attributed such to the low pay and benefits for journalists in Liberia.

“We at ALJA look forward to strengthening our partnership with the PUL and every one of you. I can commit that this organization will continue to explore avenues that benefit journalists in the country.”

The ALJA President said the plight of journalists in Liberia has also claimed the attention of the association and they are working with the PUL to provide aid to ailing journalists as most of them are not financially potent to settle their medical bills or seek treatment.

During the virtual convention veteran journalists, Patrick Manjoe and Cyrus Badio were honored for their contributions to the media in Liberia.

In his brief remarks, the President of the Press Union of Liberia Charles Coffey says, under the Coalition for Democratic Change government the rule of law is not observed.

(right) Mr. Charles Coffey, PUL President and members at the YMCA in Liberia

Making references to some lapses leading to the upcoming elections, he pointed out the lack of proper education for the national referendum and pockets of elections irregularities ahead of the upcoming December 8, 2020, Senatorial elections.

Mr. Coffey said, judging from elections violence in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo, and other countries if these issues are not addressed in Liberia it might degenerate into other crises.

“ All of us are awarded that elections globally may have the propensity to install discipline in the country by changing one leader to another or create confusion; so it is important that all of us in the media make sure we hold those who governor us accountable. In Ivory Coast 2010, in Nigeria 2010-11, and in Togo, those parameters that were the motivating factors for violence in those countries are clearly been seeing in our country, and if nothing is done to remedy the situation and denigrated into a chaotic process we will have to blame ourself.” Mr. Coffey arrived.

 He said It is important that media practitioners hold those in the leadership of the country accountable because there are glaring sounds of irregularities under the current leadership as the country goes to senatorial elections in December.

He said the Press Union continues to caution the leadership of the country headed by Mr. George Weah to engage in ventures bringing together all stakeholders including, political, religious, civil society groupings and the media so Liberia cannot return to the aches of war.

Mr. Coffey predicts that if the rule of law is not observed, there could be lots of crisis, as he referenced the situation in Grand Gedeh and said those perpetrators are at large.

On the issue of elections irregularities, Mr. Coffee told the conference delegates that voters trucking was observed during the voters’ roll updated and information on the referendum process is limited, thus creating lots of confusion on activities leading to elections and referendum on December 8, 2020.

The PUL President lauded ALJA for always standing with the entity and support journalists in Liberia, as he showers praise on the association for donating COVID-19 relief aid to journalists in Liberia, stressing “ the union will continue to work with  all of you.”

He said the media must pressurize those in authority to respect the rule of law and make show that constitutional provision is needed, upheld for peace and stability in the country. “The union will not relent, we will continue to speak against ills in society, we will continue to sensitize the people so they can make an inform decision during this senatorial elections.”