The Analyst (Monrovia)

Liberia: CEMESP Releases 2011 Press Freedom Report

The Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP) has launched its 2011 annual Report and Account of Attacks on Free Expression in Liberia with a challenge to continue its fight against activities which challenge the right to free speech.

Speaking at the launch of the report, CEMESP Executive Director Malcolm Joseph regretted that 2011 proved to be a "rather sad" year for free speech in Liberia.

He said the "sadness was because the media is still being subjected to attacks, "though Liberians were crossing the line of sustaining a full circle of democracy - with the holding of the first back-to-back elections in more than 70 years."

According to Joseph, "the story is sadder because the media was attacked from all sides - Government, politicians from all sides of the divide, civil society, big businesses and even the judiciary from which the media should seek sanctuary."

CEMESP expressed concerns that "the causes of attacks include the reportage of corruption as well as actions to prevent media from reporting bad governance and other shortcomings in society. This is appalling, and takes away from the essence of democracy."

The statement noted that "politicians do not tolerate critisicism or do not take kindly to what others have to say."

CEMESP however noted its inspiration from the maxim "that truth crushed to the ground will still rise again," and pledged to remain firm in "supporting media and society at large to uphold their belief in freedom of expression."

CEMESP then expressed gratitude to their partners who stood with them across the year, including the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and the Media Legal Defense Initiative (MLDI), both of which provided diverse support towards enhancing freedom of expression.

CEMESP also noted its cooperation with IREX and the Elections Coordinating Committee, towards providing a civil society perspective to the observation of the electoral season and support for citizen participation in governance.

Mr. Joseph then expressed hopes that those named for attacking the media "will rethink their reaction and. recognize the role of the media in making Liberia a country of democracy and laws".

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