Liberian Government Sets Up Committee To Probe Journalists Harassment

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Former Information Minister of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Laurence Bropleh, has been appointed head  of a five man committee to look into a petition presented to the Liberian Government  Thursday, March 12, by members of the Press Union of Liberia.

Rev. Dr. Larry Bropleh

The Liberian government in a release issued  Wednesday also name the CEO of Security Expert Guard Agency of Liberia (SEGAL), Momo Cyrus, and the former President of the Press Union of Liberia Peter Quaqua as members.

Others are Prof Weade Kobbah Wureh Boley, Vice President for Research at the University of Liberia, and the head of Civil Society Council, Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai respectively.

Liberian Journalists in their grievance presented to government alleged that some of their colleagues have experienced harassment and other forms of violence at the hands of state security personnel.

Pictures of state securities flogging journalists at public gathering are currently shared on  social media.

However, the committee is given a mandate to probe into the journalists’ complaint and report its findings in 10 working days.

The group will also be required to put forth recommendations on how to ensure harmony between the security forces and journalists as they carry out their respective tasks.

PUL President presenting petition to Information Minister and Minister of State

The administration of President George Weah reiterates its commitment to a free press; the government acknowledges that an independent media is cardinal to a wholesome functioning democracy.

The President has repeatedly committed himself to upholding the rule of law in the dispensation of his constitutional duties, pledging that there will be no “sacred cows”.

On Monday a member of the Liberian government committee just appointed to probe journalists harassment in Liberia by state securities Mr. Peter Quaqua wrote an open letter to President George Weah .

Mr. Peter Quaqua
Mr. Peter Quaqua
Said Mr. Quaqua “We take it that by now, you would have read and/or have received the message in the petition presented by the Press Union of Liberia on 12 March 2020, cataloging the upsurge in attacks on journalists by men in uniform – especially those within your security detail.
We are writing you personally to express our solidarity with the journalists and to encourage you to do just the ordinary thing by instituting an independent investigation of these attacks and get perpetrators to account. The number of unresolved crimes against journalists is simply unacceptable!
Mr. President, we are aware that you have eyes to see and ears to hear that journalists are being assaulted in the course of their duties by members of the state security. One of the assaulted journalists – Zenu Miller even expired few weeks after he reported bodily pains, although hospital report suggested that he died of pre-existing conditions.
As though this wasn’t sufficient, more attacks have been reported on journalists since the Zenu episode. Strangely, you have remained conspicuously silent, Mr. President.
The late Zenu Miller
 Any president credited with abolishing criminal defamation laws in his/her country should never go to sleep without asking some questions when journalists are beaten left, right and center. This amounts to an implicit approval! Besides decriminalizing media offenses, it is also your obligation to fight impunity for crimes against journalists.
You see, impunity means exempting people from punishment for wrongs they commit against other citizens. When the state refuses to investigate crimes and hold culprits to account, it easily gives license for a lawless society.
The safety of journalists is a state responsibility, Mr. President. You may not have been on the scene when these attacks occurred, but when you failed to act especially on the ones that occurred close to you and involves agents of the state, we are left with the conclusion that you sanctioned the attacks.
It is therefore our hope that you will do the right thing. That you will enable the space for journalists to do their work unimpeded; and that you will send a strong message to your officials and security personnel that will cause them to think again before beating on any journalist. God Bless Liberia!
In the cause of media right and press freedom, we remain.” Mr. Quaqua concluded.
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