The Executive Director for the Society for Democratic Initiatives, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai has threatened that if government does not treat the criminal and seditious libel challenge taken against them seriously, the civil society groups would be left with no alternative but to take the matter to the African Commission.
Saffa Abdulai spoke yesterday after the Supreme Court adjourned the libel suit brought against the Government by SLAJ over the unconstitutional existence of the criminal and seditious libel laws of the Public Order Act of 1965.
Saffa Abdulai stressed that Sierra Leone was a signatory to the international treaties that called for press freedom and free expression and that it was therefore unfortunate that, the Public Order Act, a law that impedes free speech is still in existence in the country’s law books. “Democracy does not allow for such laws, and we must move along the trends of international standards”, Saffa said
Stating his points, he continued that when the cocaine issue came up, the government did all it could to ensure those responsible are brought to book. “Why not treat the libel case also with seriousness?” he asked
He also pointed out that when President Koroma was campaigning for the presidency, he spoke of his plans to decriminalise the libel laws which were also contained in the manifesto of his party. ‘‘This is therefore time to put words into action…” he said.
Meanwhile the supreme court in which the SDI and SLAJ has challenged the government adjourned the matter to the 23rd February 2009 after one of the presiding judges was not in court yesterday.