14 January 2013

Liberia: Ellen - Gov't Will Not Burn Down Media Houses or Intimidate Critics

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has said that the faith of the Unity Party-led administration in a better and brighter future for Liberia is too strong. According to her, the government's will to work for sustainable peace and shared prosperity is too great - to either be provoked into a retreat or to be distracted from its present course.

The President's statement was contained in her message-Staying the Course, delivered Saturday, January 12, 2013. Said the Liberian leader: "This government will not shut down radio stations or ban newspapers. We will not burn down media houses or intimidate critics. We will not arrest journalists or silence political commentators, even if, aware of their own transgressions, they expect us to do so.

For to do these things is not just to manifest weakness and to stray off course, but also to dishonor the stripes which many, in and out of this administration, have earned by our years of personal sacrifices and political struggles."

Speaking further, she said the government is strong enough to have responded to abuses of press freedom by enacting one of the best Freedom of Information Laws in the world so as to always protect and guarantee openness in governance and freedom of expressions in the country.

According to her, the government is strong enough to proceed to decriminalize media-related offenses in keeping with the Table Mountain Declaration. "We will continue to open up the government, and to open up our society, to a healthy competition of ideas, whether such ideas are expressed in unreasonable criticisms, or as it is in some cases, unsubstantiated claims against the administration and its officials," she pointed.

However, she noted that where freedom is mischievously abused to the extent that it violates the rights of other citizens, it shall be the solemn obligation of this government, from which it will neither slumber nor hesitate to willfully, dutifully and lawfully punish such abusers so as to uphold, defend and protect the rights of each citizen.

"Awarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior comprise the useful balance by which our society will be securely anchored to the future we desire," she among other things added.

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