The Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI) has lambasted government’s heavy-handedness towards the media in Sierra Leone, in a report dated September 2007 to September, 2008.
The Executive Director of SDI, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai categorically told journalists at a press briefing this week, at his Pademba Road Office in Freetown, that, the Sierra Leone Police is yet to be investigated for the recent beating of five journalists at state house.
The indiscipline in the Police Force, he observed is not new, and it is now glaring that the Force is becoming partisan.
He said that for the past year there has been undue harassment and beating of journalists by the Sierra Leone Police and Government Officials.
On the issue of Public Order Act 1965, Mr. Saffa referred to President Koroma’s speech at the state opening of Parliament in which he vowed to ensure free and pluralistic press. He added that, while serving as opposition leader in 2006, President Koroma was very much instrumented in taking the freedom of information bill to parliament in order to expunge the 1965 seditious criminal libel law.
The SDI Boss further stated that, now is the appropriate time for the removal of the draconian press laws from our law books.
He also confirmed that, the current Minister of Information and Communications I.B Kargbo is a journalist and the former President of SLAJ who was spear heading the fight against the 1965 criminal libel law.
“We don’t depend on government’s political statement for the removal of the draconian laws in our law book, that is why we are challenging it in the superior court of the land” he concluded.
According to SDI status report on the media, there has been a tremendous growth in the number of newspapers and radio stations in the country.
“The right of media houses to operate is becoming a way of life as many people now rely on the numerous radio stations in the country for information on happenings around the country” the report confirmed.
By Solomon Rogers