28 February 2013

Liberia: PUL Wants Ellen Seize Legislature, Executive Crisis

The Press Union of Liberia(PUL) says it is alarmed over the escalating tension between members of the legislature and the executive branches of the Liberian government and calls on the President to get seized of the situation before it degenerates into chaos.

The Union's attention is particularly drawn to what appears to be a retaliatory action by a group of young people who gathered at the Temple of Justice apparently to show their anger at the conduct of the suspended City Mayor, Mary Broh.

Ms. Broh is believed to have led group of women at the Monrovia Central Prison to "obstruct" the imprisonment of Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpan, who was being sent jail by the House of Representatives on contempt.

The rowdy scene at the Courts unsurprisingly witnessed attacks on journalists who were aggressively trying to cover the story by elements of the state security.

A Television [Camera man] journalist, Victor Dorbor, with Clar TV was assaulted and his camera smashed by a City Police officer, who was preventing the journalist from filming. The scene is captured on tape and is in the position of the Union.

Another journalist with the Analyst Newspaper, Nathaniel Walker was beaten and detained by the Police when he expressed his resentment at what happened to his colleague. Walker, who was later released, admitted to the Union that he became very emotional upon seeing the camera of the TV journalist violently brought down to the ground.

Habakkuk Sackor, a media officer with the Public Works Ministry was also picked up in the Police operation and thrown behind bars. According to preliminary hearings, the only wrong committed by Habakkuk is to have been in the proximity of the incident.

A forth journalist was seen at the Police Station seeking redress for a damaged key on his laptop. The Union understands that the same City Police Officer who smashed the TV Camera, was the same guy involved with the laptop.

Police authorities have told the Union that they know the identity of the City Police Officer and he will be made to pay for the damaged items.

Amidst the disruptive political posturing by public officials, the Union said it is saddened that journalists have to be victimized while trying to report the story. "It is especially diversionary and a contradiction that public officials are engaged in disorderly conduct with impunity, while journalists pay the price," said PUL President Peter Quaqua.

While condemning the police action, the Union also admonishes journalists to exercise the highest possible caution when covering riots.

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