16 March 2012

Liberia: IFJ Calls On Govt to Protect Threatened Female Journalist

press release

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to make it her priority to protect the life of Mae Azango, a female reporter of Front Page newspaper who has been threatened for having published last week a story on the Sande society which practices Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia.

"The threats made by the Sande society are unacceptable and a throw- back to dark ages of journalism which have no place in a modern democracy led by a female president for that matter," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "The Government of President Sirleaf should warn the Sande society of its direct responsibility for any attack on the journalist's life."

According to statement issued by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), IFJ Affiliate in Liberia, Azango has since gone into hiding after narrating the ordeal of a victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in a publication dated 8 March. The journalist had to escape from her own house because a female tenant had threatened her life, in addition to a number of anonymous phone calls and messages threatening to attack her because of the story, the statement added. Other members of the editorial team of the newspaper and persons quoted in the story have also received similar threats.

"Mae is not a perpetrator, but rather a crusader journalist of women's rights who only reported the plight of an abused woman as the world observed International Women's Day. She ought to be celebrated and not executed," said the PUL President, Peter Quaqua.

The IFJ Joins the PUL in calling on the journalists' community, the gender and human rights organisations to campaign for the safety of Azango.

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