The Communications Coordinator of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRC) Abu Bakarr Tarawalie told Journalists that “it is a crime to falsify Red Cross emblem” at a weekend media training session at the Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM hall) in Freetown. Organized by SLRC, the training session had the theme: “The Changing media environment.” Mr. Tarawalie said that the SLRC was established as a statute in 1962 as an auxiliary to the Government of Sierra Leone in 1962.
Responding to allegations levied against his organization on the use of Red Cross emblem on the recent cocaine plane that was intercepted at the International Airport at Lungi, Mr. Tarawalie stated that the organization itself was established by an Act of Parliament which automatically puts Government in a leading role in administering the affairs of Red Cross. He said government has the primary responsibility to prosecute anyone who misuses the Red Cross emblem for his/her selfish interest.
“We only play a secondary role but Government has primary responsibility,” he said.
The head of communications Sierra Leone Red Cross, Mrs. Vanessa Johnson, explained that Sierra Leone is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, but has not done much to sensitize the people of this country on the international humanitarian law and its ramifications. She added that the organization has now deemed it necessary to establish a communication unit so as to propagate their activities throughout the country.
She added that the SLRC designed this programme to afford the press the opportunity of a better understanding of the International Red Cross Movement. In particular, the National Red Cross Society is preparing the ground to review its Act and encourage the Government to domesticate the International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) and treaties, to which Sierra Leone intends to become a party.
The Communications Coordinator noted that the consistent misuse of their emblem, as a result of their Act, is not domesticated by the government. James Tamba Lebbie from the Mass Communication Department Fourah Bay College (FBC) gave a presentation on communication and reputation management and Isaac Massaquoi gave a presentation on how media practitioners can disseminate on International Humanitarian Law (IHL).