Sunday May 10, 2015
- World Press Freedom Day was marked a week ago on May 3, 2015
and the theme this year sends a clear message to those doing
their utmost to suppress press freedom, freedom of expression
This year's Theme: "Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better
reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age"
should be a wake-up call to all those who care about press
freedom and expression in Sierra Leone that the days of
"careless talk" should have been confined to the annals of
despotic rule in Sierra Leone.
The message this year is telling despotic governments that
journalism must be allowed to thrive, that the freedom to say
what is affecting the welfare of any citizen must be allowed.
This message should be heeded by the rat and his gang at State
House who believe that they should not be criticised, that they
should be allowed to trample on the basic rights of Sierra
Leoneans who refuse to sing from their sheets of massive
corruption, uncaring attitude and tampering with the
Constitution to achieve personal gains.
This despite what the country and Sierra Leoneans had to endure
when during 24 years of All Peoples Congress despotic and
rights-abusing rule all those thought to be opponents were
incarcerated on many a false charge with those believed to be a
threat to their continuing rule hanged at the Pademba Road
prison. Their victims included not only soldiers and civilians
belonging to other political groups, but even those who were
members of the then ruling APC but were believed to be
disruptive of the grand master plan of Sierra Leone's Great
Satan, the one and only Bandaylay Pass Ar Die aka Siaka Probyn
A day after this, on 4th May 2015, the President of the Sierra
Leone Association of Journalists, (SLAJ) Kelvin Lewis in
a message, no doubt on
behalf of the organisation and all decent and professional
journalists as well as those who are in it for the money and
kudos from the rat noted -
"We recall that even though a State of Emergency was imposed to
deal with the Ebola outbreak yet the exceptional powers granted
the President under that regulation was first used to jail
journalist David Tam Baryoh. Clearly journalism cannot thrive
under such draconian constraints. As devastating as the Ebola
outbreak is some good things however emerged out of it. For once
all media practitioners became unified, putting aside political
and commercial interests to fight the common enemy - Ebola.
Ebola also provided us with the opportunity to experiment with a
mentoring program which saw a senior journalist travelling with
young inexperienced reporters, to regions which were declaring
42 days Ebola free, and helping them to report objectively. More
however needs to be done to work towards better reporting in the
profession. Let me salute women in the media for the strides
they are making. An increasing number of women now head radio
stations and even now a newspaper. While this cannot account for
even 10% of the media landscape, I would encourage more women to
come forward and help reduce the gender gap in the media
Kelvin's message had this line which we consider most disturbing
especially in the electronic age - "It is clear that the advent
of new media characterized by Facebook, whatsapp and twitter has
posed new challenges for the practice of journalists. Ordinary
people have now become citizen journalists and as such
maintaining the ethics is posing new challenges along with the
threats to the security of journalists and the protection of
Already one such citizen has been jailed for a whatsapp post
critical of the President. This shows the decreasing democratic
space highlighted earlier and the risk of labelling all such
citizens as journalist when they are not media practitioners."
This is extremely worrisome and we would call on all
journalists, governments and friends of Sierra Leone within and
outside the country to condemn such action by the rat and this
again highlights our fears that the judiciary is compromised
thereby putting the freedom and rights of citizens at risk. The
rat must be stopped.
We can now understand why a report from one of the cesspits of
the rat talks about prodemocracy demonstrators in London
insisting that they heard these Sierra Leoneans hurling abuses
at Prime Minister David Cameron. Well the elections are now over
and Mr Cameron is in again as Prime Minister. We would therefore
urge the rat and his sewer-crawling gbatolites (shameless praise
singers to boot) not to take this "serious matter" lying down.
They should take those recordings and translations to Number 10
Downing Street so that Mr Cameron can try these prodemocrats and
have the courts jail them. How dare they insult the Prime
The only problem we see here is - the UK is a democratic country
which respects freedom of expression.
We have been receiving reports of certain operatives employed by
the rat at the tax payers expense not only physically monitoring
the movements of people they consider "enemies of the State" and
these include journalists not on the payroll of the rat, but
that they are actually listening in to telephone and other
conversations as well as using sophisticated electronic
eavesdropping and interception techniques acquired from a number
of countries. Well as one title of the famous James Hadley Chase
novel has it - "The Guilty are Afraid"
We would want to remind the rat - that journalists who do not
tow the line of despots and are termed "Enemies of the State"
have seen it all and that nothing is new under the sun. We would
want to remind the rat - that journalists will always be there
to record for posterity the rise and fall of all leaders - be
they good, bad or ugly and that threats and intimidation will
never cower the spirit of the profession. It is quite clear to
even those who had tried to be ostrich-like in analysing current
events in Sierra Leone, that AFRC Mark2 will never succeed in
muzzling free speech and expression.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists has also called for
the removal of the current state of emergency which was
introduced as a means of dealing with the Ebola scourge. This
call is quite in place as the rat is now abusing this to harass
and terrorise anyone thought to be critical of the rat's
"However as we look forward to the coming days and weeks let me
reiterate SLAJ’s call for the State of Emergency to be removed.
Our democratic credentials are being badly damaged by the
selective implementation of the regulations. The fundamental
human rights of citizens to free expression, especially the
right to hold a different opinion and demonstrate is being
denied. This threatens peaceful coexistence and democratic
My we remind the rat - lest he's forgotten or may not have known
- that Kelvin Lewis was among journalists who were tormented and
nearly killed by his mentors, the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil
otherwise known as the beasts. He was among those who were
locked up in those hot forty foot containers that had
insufficient air for those so incarcerated at the military base
at Cockerill in Western tip of Freetown.
His call for responsible journalism is also noted - "In light of
the prevailing circumstances, I call on all journalists to be
responsible in their general conduct and professional in their
reporting. Let me end by quoting Aidan White – “Journalism is
the conscience of democracy, it will survive and prosper, as
long as it remains independent and sticks to its ethical base.”
Farther afield, this is part of a report on what
US President Barack Obama
said on this day. Here's President Obama - "Well, as many of you
know, Sunday is World Press Freedom Day, a day in which we
reaffirm the vital role that a free press plays in democracy and
shining a light on the many challenges, cruelties and also
hopeful stories that exist in countries all around the world.
Journalists give all of us, as citizens, the chance to know the
truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments. That
makes us better. It makes us stronger. It gives voice to the
voiceless, exposes injustice, and holds leaders like me
accountable. Unfortunately, in too many places around the world,
a free press is under attack by governments that want to avoid
the truth or mistrust the ability of citizens to make their own
decisions. Journalists are harassed, sometimes even killed.
Independent outlets are shut down. Dissent is silenced. And
freedom of expression is stifled."
UN Chief Scribe Ban Ki-moon,
Director-General Irina Bokova and UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein have encapsulated what the day
means to the world. "Quality journalism enables citizens to make
informed decisions about their society’s development. It also
works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power.
For this, journalism must be able to thrive, in an enabling
environment in which they can work independently and without
undue interference and in conditions of safety."
We are again worried, extremely worried to hear that many
journalists and media outlets in Sierra Leone have been
compromised and are now on the payroll of the rat who leaves no
stone unturned in his corrupt practices to keep this section of
Sierra Leone society on-side. We would urge those drinking deep
from the putrid sewers of corruption to rethink their role in
society and for the common good of all Sierra Leoneans. You are
the conscience of society.
We leave you with these words from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
"Thriving journalism – whether in digital or more traditional
form – must be anchored in quality reporting and information
dissemination to all segments of society. Women play a critical,
yet far too neglected, role in in today’s media landscape. On
this Day, I call on all governments, societies and individuals
to uphold the principles put forward by Member States on the
need for the free exchange of information and ideas, both within
and among nations.
We must commit to ensure that the safety and human rights of
journalists are protected, independent of the political,
socio-economic or cultural pressures that may threaten, impede
or deter their freedom to keep the world informed."