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Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Press Release
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May 20, 2009, 17:14
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SIERRA LEONE ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS (SLAJ)

2nd Floor, 31 Garrison Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone P.M.B. 724
E-mail:
slaj_salone@yahoo.com
President: +232 76 609285
Secretary General: +232 76 652556


Date: 18th May 2009

Press Release

SLAJ CONCERNED OVER POLICE ATTITUDE TOWARDS JOURNALISTS

Freetown: The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is disturbed by a Public Notice released on the16th May 2009 by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police calling for the arrest by the Public of the Publisher/Proprietress of Awareness Times Newspaper. This in the view of the Association, is nothing order than the Police inciting hoodlums against Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and her Acting Editor Abdul Karim Kabia.

SLAJ wishes to remind the Police that Arrest Warrants are issued almost everyday without the CID releasing statements calling on the Public to effect them. The two journalists have not committed treason or murder hence SLAJ sees no need for such knee-jerk reaction or appeasement policy on the part of the Police. This is a graphic display of how a Police force can condescend and play strictly into the hands of politicians.

The Association would therefore hold the Police accountable for any harm that may befall the two journalists while the warrants remain in force.

While SLAJ does not comment on the editorial policies of media houses, it abhors the use for whatever reason of criminal libel law whose provisions the Police say they are now invoking against the two journalists.

This is a sad and backward development especially at a time when SLAJ and concerned members of the Public await judgment by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone on a case seeking an interpretation and a repeal of the law relating to criminal libel.

If for any reason anyone feels offended by the said publication, SLAJ wishes to urge such aggrieved party to take the complaint to the Independent Media Commission (IMC). Otherwise, the Association wishes to urge that due procedures and processes be respected and applied.

The Association is also disturbed that despite the stabbing on Thursday 13th May 2009 of journalist Sitta Turay of New People Newspaper, apparently by a ruling party supporter, the Police have made no effort to arrest the assailant. SLAJ therefore urges the Police to do so immediately.

At a time when Sierra Leone has started to improve on its rating in international freedom of expression indexes, SLAJ is concerned that such negative developments may serve as a setback to the country.

The Association therefore commends the action of the Office of the President to relieve of his duty the State House Photographer Alimamy Kamara whose action is alleged to have triggered the stabbing of the journalist.

Mustapha Sesay
National Secretary General


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