1 June 2011

Liberia: Speaker Orders Journalists' Cameras Seized

Speaker Alex Tyler of the House of Representatives, in a furious mood, Tuesday ordered the immediate seizure of cameras belonging two legislative reporters while on duty in session at the Capitol.

Speaker Tyler ordered the sergeant-at-arms at the House to immediately confiscate a camera being used by a reporter of New Democrat and another being used by a reporter of the Informer newspaper.

"What da New Democrat boy doing? Your take his camera, sergeant-at-arms, take his camera. I say take it now," Rep. Tyler yelled while seated in session.

The Speaker got furious and ordered confiscation of New Democrat reporter, Boima J.V.Boima's camera when he attempted to photograph reporter Roland Perry of the Informer newspaper, who was tussling with the sergeant-at-arms to prevent his camera from being taken away, also upon the Speaker's order.

Rep. Tyler wanted journalist Perry's camera taken away and the photos he had taken in chamber, deleted.

The Speaker gave the order after Rep. Mathew Darblo, (Grand Cape Mount) complained that reporter Perry refused to delete his photo taken while the House was in session. It was at this juncture that our reporter pulled his camera in order to capture the scene when an apparent irate Speaker Tyler ordered: "What da New Democrat boy doing? Your take his camera, sergeant-at-arms, take his camera. I say take it now."

The Speaker's fury came despite the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, allowing journalists and the public to access information of public interest.

Meanwhile, Mr. Julius Karnuba, president of the Legislative Reporters Pool (LEGISPOOL), has investigated the standoff, and ordered an indefinite press boycott on the House until the Speaker offered a public apology.

"No journalist or reporter should go to the House. It is a no go zone for you all," Karnuba declared.

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