17 May 2013

Liberia: Blackout Extended

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has extended the media blackout on the Presidency and also included the Ministry of Information.

At a mass meeting held at the Headquarters of the PUL Thursday, members agreed that no journalists should provide coverage of the Ministry of Information or attend any of its press conferences during the period of the media blackout.

Like it is done with the Presidency, PUL wants all assigned reporters to stay away from MICAT's activities.

The latest decision by the PUL comes weeks after similar stay away order was placed on the Liberian presidency for 'reckless' and threatening comments by the Director of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) Othello Warrick.

Following Warrick's statement at the World Press Freedom celebration in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County on May 3, 2013, the Press Union of Liberia called on all reporters/correspondents assigned at the Executive Mansion to stay away and refrain from covering the Presidency until there are guarantees for the freedom and safety of Journalists across the country.

The Union also mandated all independent newspapers to print black front pages with appropriate inscriptions with illustrations portraying the danger hanging over journalists following the threat and insults by Warrick.

The PUL also requested radio stations to suspend broadcast form two hours in keeping with the unanimous decision which has since been implemented. Additionally, at Thursday's meeting journalists agreed that MICAT is the arm responsible to disseminate government's information especially the presidency; therefore it should be included in the media blackout.

At the same time, a former Senator of Grand Gedeh County, Nathaniel Williams has condemned statement made by Warrick. He supports the ongoing media blackout by journalists and media institutions.

It can be recalled that Othello Warrick, the man responsible for the security of the Liberia presidency threatened to go after journalists who intrudes into presidential intelligence.

He told journalists "be careful in questioning the integrity of Liberians. Be careful because you have your pen [we have our guns]. If you incriminate the character and integrity of Liberians, we would come after you." Warrick also described journalists as terrorists.

Meanwhile, the PUL President Peter Quaqua says a final statement on the media blackout will be released next Monday when the President returns to Liberia.

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