The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has urged the police and judiciary to treat the matter on the attack and threats against the Publisher of the Awareness Times Newspaper, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, with the seriousness and urgency it deserves by speedily bringing the culprits to book.
This call was made in a press release issued by SLAJ yesterday. See press release below.
Meanwhile, in a letter written to Dr. Blyden and copied to the Inspector General of Police (IG) Brima Acha Kamara, dated 28th January 2009, the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission assured Dr. Blyden that the Commission is closely monitoring the progress of the investigation. An excerpt of the said letter states, "Should the police fail to do so effectively, the Commission will formally intervene to ensure that your rights are protected".
SIERRA LEONE ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS (SLAJ)E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2nd Floor, 31 Garrison Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone P.M.B. 724
President: +232 76 609285
Secretary General: +232 76 652556
Date: 28th January 2009
CONDEMNATION OF ATTACK &THREAT AGAINST THE PUBLISHER OF AWARENESS TIMES NEWSPAPER
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has received an official complaint from the Publisher/Proprietor of the Awareness Times Newspaper about an attack on her person along Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown on January 27, 2009 by a group of people who she believes were hired by a Mr. Alfred T. Gbakima who is being tried on a different matter at the High Court.
In her complaint, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden expressed fear that the attack and subsequent threats which came after she published critical articles against her attackers, has left her with "a real and serious threat of death" hanging over her head.
SLAJ wishes to associate with the publisher and to condemn the alarming spate of brutality directed at journalists in recent times, who are merely discharging their professional duties and responsibilities.
The association wishes to urge the police and judiciary to treat the matter with the seriousness and urgency it deserves by speedily bringing the culprits to law.
SLAJ also wishes to stress that there is no excuse for anyone to attack a journalist if he/she is aggrieved by the content of his/her publication or broadcast, as there are lawful mechanisms for redress by aggrieved parties, including taking the matter to SLAJ, the Independent Media Commission or the law courts.
The Association further wishes to reaffirm its determination to protect and defend journalists in the discharge of their professional duties and combat impunity using every lawful means necessary.