''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 6

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Freetown (Sierra Leone)

15 June 2010


Remarks at Inauguration of Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation

Your Excellency, President [Ernest Bai] Koroma,
Minister of Information, Hon. Alhaji [I.B.] Kargbo,
Chairman of the SLBC, Professor [Septimus M.] Kaikai,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a profound honour to join you as we welcome the birth of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation - a milestone on this country's march to progress.

SLBC -- your new public broadcaster -- is a gift to every woman, man and child in Sierra Leone.

Only a decade ago, this beautiful country was locked in ugly conflict. Far too often, the most common means of communication were bullets, guns and other weapons of war.

Today, Sierra Leone is at peace -- looking to the future with confidence and promise.

You have conducted two peaceful democratic transitions of power and are now preparing for the third national elections.

This is not simply a transition, it is a transformation.

And the credit belongs to you – the people of Sierra Leone.

There were many who were honoured to join you on your extraordinary journey to reconciliation and peace.

One of those partners was the United Nations – and one of the most effective tools we had was United Nations Radio.

It was a heroic effort.

Building a radio station from scratch to broadcast across the length and breadth of the country.

Setting up transmitters in remote, battle-scarred zones.

Establishing first-of-its-kind programming to reach all the people.

Broadcasting 24 hours a day.

All in the wake of a horrific civil war, at a time of incredible tension.

People followed every word.

And, bit by bit, something remarkable happened.

The radio station helped Sierra Leone tune itself to the frequency of peace.

I want to thank the many journalists and staff of the UN radio... almost all Sierra Leoneans... for their dedicated and professional work. Over the past ten years, they have become a trusted voice throughout the country.

Now, you have embarked on another first-of-its-kind venture.

You have brought together the state-controlled broadcaster and the UN Radio and established an Independent Broadcasting Corporation. We must work to ensure that this new station will build on the best traditions of its two successors.

Mr. President, I commend you, your government and parliament for your action. I salute parliamentarians for unanimously passing a historic bill that created the SLBC.

Let me also congratulate Professor Kaikai and the Board of Trustees for their dedication. You are true pioneers in creating this new independent broadcaster, and many of your colleagues will look to you as an example.

Much effort has brought us to this day. Yet the hard work begins now; there are big challenges ahead.

Political leadership must ensure that journalists are free to practice their profession without fear of criminal charges for simply doing their job.

At the same time, journalists must respect the principle of non-partisanship and the responsibility that comes with press freedom.

And the SLBC must be the very embodiment of its founding principles – the impartiality and accuracy that are essential for any truly independent public broadcaster.

With the birth of SLBC, Sierra Leone is broadcasting a strong message to the world.

You are showing the power of public broadcasting to heal wounds and build peace and prosperity. To be a strong voice for national unity, social progress and economic development. To set new standards in the region for democratic institutions.

It gives me great pleasure to hand over this enterprise to an outstanding Board of Trustees and to a committed team of journalists and broadcasters.

I pledge the continuing support of the United Nations. And I know that with political leadership, dedication and commitment, the people of Sierra Leone will make sure that the SLBC will shine as an example for the entire region.

Thank you very much.

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©Sierra Herald 2002