The Political Parties Registration Commission on Monday met with managers/representatives of radio stations, the Independent Media Commission, the Independent Radio Network and Women in the Media to chat the way forward ahead of the 2012 Elections.
In his address, the Chairman of PPRC, Justice E.M. Tholla Thompson said the meeting was part of the commission's effort to collaborate with key stakeholders to ensure peaceful elections in Sierra Leone. He advised them to be mindful of their listeners especially as the country has a high illiteracy rate.
He expressed the commission's dissatisfaction over the negative use of the media by politicians and their supporters, noting that even though these politicians use the radio to sell their political agenda, they also use it to preach hate messages, incitement and other vices that are inimical to the country's democratic process. He advised media practitioners of their responsibility as watchdogs of society.
In his statement, Commissioner C.C.V. Taylor reminded the gathering of the mandate of the commission and advised media practitioners to familiarize themselves with the Political Parties Act of 2002. He assured media representatives that the commission will make available relevant information about political parties and the commission anytime it is needed.
At the end of the meeting, the following were agreed upon: bi-weekly engagement of station managers and major stakeholders; radio stations should develop and constantly revise an editorial policy; journalists should not allow their stations to be used to promote hate messages or incitement; journalist should vet text messages sent and inciting text messages should not be read; media houses should ensure that they have a production team; media house should set the agenda for politicians; media houses should set moderating rules for politicians; media houses should be neutral, objective, independent and impartial; and engagement, commitment by journalists, and enforcement by statutory bodies (e.g. IMC).
In another engagement, the chairman of the commission also met with the US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Michael Owen and Richard Gee from the United Nations Department for Political Affairs. During these meetings, the chairman apprised them on the recent political happenings and the plans of the commission.