The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is demanding the release from police custody without any further delay of its Vice President, Phillip Neville.
A press release issued over the weekend stated that, “first and foremost, the constitution of Sierra Leone provides that a suspect of a non-capital offence should be charged to court within 72 hours or released.”
It noted that, “the continued detention of Phillip Neville is causing tension within the community and therefore the matter of granting him bail should be treated as a matter of urgency.”
SLAJ further maintained that it had cooperated with government by disseminating its own version of the Libyan [donated rice] controversy and also the need for the press and government to work amicably, especially on the eve of the presidential and parliamentary elections which did not need to be emphasized. It also noted that, “SLAJ does not intend to politicize the Phillip Neville incarceration but it is also the responsibility of government to ensure that the rule of law is promoted without bias and intolerance”.
The press release also emphasized that, “the revised Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act 2000 which was passed by parliament less than two weeks ago now gives the IMC enough strength and power to handle matters of journalistic practice in Sierra Leone and therefore SLAJ is at a loss as to why government has ignored the IMC in favour of utilizing questionable police methods.”
Since his arrest Neville had been transferred from CID headquarters to the Aberdeen Police station and later brought down to the Central Police station.
Meanwhile, it has been reliably learnt that Mr Neville will appear in court today on a one-count charge of publishing false statement against President Kabbah and his government in accordance with Section 32 of the Public Order Act.