Sierra Leone Association of Journalists calls on police and politicians to respect media freedom

Mohamed Asmieu Bah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 November 2019:

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is pleased to officially inform its membership and the general public that the journalist who was detained on Monday, 11th November 2019, by the Sierra Leone Police has been released on bail through the intervention of the Association and the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The journalist, Salieu Tejan Jalloh, Manging Editor of The Times SL Newspaper, spent almost 24 hours in detention at the Criminal Investigations Department without any official charge or reason for his arrest.

While his release was our priority as we engaged with the Police throughout yesterday (Tuesday, 12th November, 2019), we wish to raise some key concerns.

SLAJ totally condemns the manner in which the Police moved in to arrest and lock up the journalist, who did not publish anything malicious or defamatory other than trying to crosscheck information that he had; which we believe is a standard journalistic practice.

Furthermore, the journalist alleged that the police officers who arrested him went to his office at Soldier Street, Freetown, on the pretext of wanting to place an advert in his newspaper, and manhandled him in the process of effecting an arrest.

We are particularly concerned that this is coming at a time when the Government has shown great commitment to repeal the obnoxious Criminal Libel Law and promoting media freedom.

“The action by the Sierra Leone Police was absolutely wrong and we totally condemn it. It is time to break this unholy partnership between the police and politicians locking up journalists from time to time using the Criminal Libel Law. The Police must understand that we are law abiding citizens and we are not criminals,” said the President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.

Meanwhile, while SLAJ will continue to engage the Police we also call on our membership to always practice within the parameters of the SLAJ Code of Ethics and the Independent Media Commission’s Code of Practice.

Author: Mohamed Asmieu Bah is the National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). 

4 Comments

  1. The serious allegation against the Chief Minister – or the vacuum in a contextual approximation; as the guy is merely a void in a challenging political setting – of pocketing a massive backhander to the tune of US$1.5 million, could just be the tip of the iceberg, in a scene reminiscent of a classic western movie where a tiny country called Sierra Leone had been strangulated by a bandwagon of SLPP gangsters, with the sole purpose of milking her abundant resources for their illusionary and selfish aim.

    Within a period of 2-years, many would now be convinced that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) is nothing but a mere ploy to indoctrinate this gullible nation into believing that this bunch of SLPP clowns are displaying the colours of patriotism; as they embark on a LONG-TERM AGENDA of dividing Sierra Leone, or, gradually bring the country to her knees. And, if the latter is the twist of circumstances, they would simply run away. Their bags are already packed, ready to beat it, to the US or the UK. These clique of ‘cowboys’ are seemingly everywhere stuffing the country’s money to prepare for their ‘new Sierra Leone’.

    It is imperative that Sierra Leoneans should wake up! These guys came to power through the back door – out of force, to be exact. They are still taking – give them a millimetre, they will take a metre. They are most likely not ready to give up power by any democratic means. Forget it. As they are frightened of retribution, and therefore would prefer to hang around, irrespective of their performance on the economy; in an attempt to avoid being accountable for their seedy and dubious deeds.

    The SLPP is not the party for poor Sierra Leone. All macroeconomic fundamentals are increasing in the ‘wrong direction’. Exchange rates, inflation, interest rates, employment, growth, are all registering negative values (decreasing) as compared to April 2018, when the main opposition APC party left power. Debt is increasingly accumulating, and there are no prospects of meaningful direct foreign investments in the immediate economic outlook. On top of all these, there are no tangible achievements to date – apart from a Free and ‘Quality’ Education initiative that is struggling with hasty and ill-thought ideas. No policy priorities, and resource distribution is geared towards creating a deliberate imbalance as the marginalization of certain regions of the country takes centre stage.

    With less degree of uncertainty, every Sierra Leonean knows the three main characters riding this SLPP bandwagon, full of gold diggers – waving the green flag with the caption “paopa” – as they head towards their fairytale land, within the construct of the ‘new direction’ agenda. President Maada Bio; the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis; and the Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa; are in no doubt to many people’s minds, the key actors that are calling the shots amidst this treacherous and fruitless journey.

    The above scenario has already been demonstrated by the dark clouds that are enveloping the political landscape of the country; whereby the politicization of various institutions – including, the Police, the Judiciary, the Armed Forces, the National Electoral Commission (NEC), and as well as educational institutions – is rapidly taking place, contrary to the rhetoric advocated by the party in the past 2018 elections. How will Democracy prevail in such an atmosphere? It makes one not to want to contemplate the probable outcome of the next elections, in 2023. Will Sierra Leone revert to another senseless civil war, sacrificing all the well-earned peace and democratic gains that had been accomplished in the past 2-decades? Check it out …

  2. I have always been in support of the repeal of the criminal libel law in Sierra Leone. Not anymore. With the exception of a few, Sierra Leonean journalists are corrupt. Therefore, there needs to be a law in the books that could bring them to justice whenever they attempt to run amok.

    Professor David Francis’ immortal sin against the body of journalism in Sierra Leone is to have led president Julius Bio’s Transition Team in that body’s early investigations of the corrupt practices of the outgoing APC regime. Additionally, the young man’s accession to the post of chief minister and his high visibility in the Bio government may have ruffled many feathers. Thus, in retaliation, corrupt elements have decided to smear the professor’s well earned reputation.

    Love him or hate him, Bio has rebranded Sierra Leone in the international arena. Hardly any day passes without getting some good news about Sierra Leone. The president’s success has been aided by the untiring efforts of his hardworking lieutenants. In contrast to the useless APC era, Sierra Leone now has the likes of professor David Francis, Dr. David Sengeh, Francis Ben Kelfala and many others gaining attention in the international arena for their hard work in governance. These are the men that journalists in Sierra Leone have conspired to destroy. And it is precisely due to this nefarious ploy that Sierra Leone must keep the criminal libel laws on the books.

  3. To Simply put it – The police didn’t arrest this so-called journalist because he published an article in the newspaper which he has a freedom to do as long as the information is credible and factual. They only arrested a suspected criminal by using covert operations which is a legitimate tactic in any police investigation , after receiving a complaint from a lawful citizen that a criminal is trying to harass and extort him . Thank God it’s not US because he should have been arrested with a gun pointing to his head.

    For a journalist to text the Chief Minister with damaging information to bring him down is blackmail and extortion- its like the whistleblower texting President Trump instead of the appropriate investigative authority which is Sierra Leone is the ACC Commissioner who is now the the New Leader of the the Anti Corruption unity in the African Union , but this wayward journalist just stated that he has no confidence in him.

    Any patriotic Sierra Leonean should take offense to that derogatory and destructive propaganda just to minimize the credibility of the MCC report which rated Sierra Leone as one of the least corrupt nation in our region. This criminal has been used as a puppet in a string by the corrupt APC party.

  4. My Goodness! just hearing about the deceptive, shady, underhanded tactics the Sierra Police used to gain entry into the Premises of Mr Jalloh to arrest him, scare the Bejeebers out of me.(lol) The duties of the Police is to protect life and property, not to harass, intimidate or molest the same citizens they are supposed to serve. Hand puppets some of them have become. Others? A bunch of good for nothing string tied, perverse and corrupt, puppets dangling from the hands of the government in power.(lol)

    Perhaps, they need to be reminded that all those free uniforms and shiny boots they are wearing were paid for with hard earned taxpayers money,and not from stolen loot, stashed away by the notorious SLPP. It’s time for the SLP to reexamine their priorities, obligations and loyalties to our beloved nation. Indeed, when push comes to shove,and when all hell breaks loose,that’s when you would really know who’s got your back. Two thumbs for SLAJ for acting decisively and looking out for Mr Jalloh.

    The SLP needs to get their acts together real fast; its time for them to decide if they want to become Politicians with hands tainted completely by corruption or remain as humble government servants with partially clean hands, made dirty by itsy-bitsy little bribes.(lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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