27 January 2017

Liberia: Fejal Demands Public Apology

The Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) said it seriously condemn the diatribes used against the person and character of one of its members, Mrs. Estelle Liberty Kemoh, a reporter at Power FM/TV in Monrovia by the Secretary General of the ruling Unity Party and Minister of Information, Eugene Nagbe.

The association its stance is against the backdrop of a complaint filed to the Press Union of Liberia on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 by the Executive Director of the Infinity Corporation, Aaron Kollie backed by a video recording in which the Liberian Information Minister Nagbe was seen raining insults on Mrs. Kemoh in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building following President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's annual address on Monday January 23, 2017. "We out-rightly denounce the irresponsible and unruly attitude of Mr. Nagbe and demand a prompt public apology to Madam Kemoh and the Female Journalists Association of Liberia because his comments have caused Madam Kemoh both marital and professional embarrassment and has brought her to public ridicule," group said.

According to FeJAL, when a senior party and government official reduces a serious female reporter to a "girlfriend' of a lawmaker, it is intimidating and it speaks to the disregard they have for women and it points at the methods and strategies used to harass and divert their attention from covering the process. "Female journalists must be treated as professionals and should not be subjected to assaults, insults or any form of intimidations while on their reportorial duties and any action of such will be condemned and handled through due process.

The group argued that by her assignment at the National Legislature, and having served as President of the Legislative Reporters Association of Liberia (LEGISPOOL), Mrs Kemoh has professional engagements with almost all legislators, and such allegation against her are rather childish, irresponsible and grossly unacceptable. "FeJAL believes Minister Nagbe's public attack and wild allegation against Mrs. Kemoh in front of other guests and journalists is an affront to not only her and her family, but all female journalists in the country, and deserves a public reprimand," the group emphasized.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOOL) reiterated that its attention has also been drawn to the repugnant action of the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, verbal insult on reporters Estelle Liberty-Kemue, of Power FM/TV, Jackson Clay of the New Republic newspaper and other colleagues.

The group in a press statement signed by its Secretary General, journalist Mark Dahn and issued late Thursday evening noted that group takes serious exception to the recent behavior to several of its members.

"LEGISPOOL deemed the MICAT boss action unacceptable and thinks that such action on the part of the Information Minister violates the Code of conduct which speaks to the conduct of public officials."

The release added that LEGISPOL also believed that Minister Nagbe's action has the proclivity to undermine the President quest for media freedom. "What is so disdainful about the uncontrolled and recalcitrant attitude of the discourteous Minister is his lack of sensitivity of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's presence on the grounds of the Capitol," the release quoted the group as saying.

The release also said due to the Minister of Information lacks of responsible comments in the public glare, especially few minutes after President Sirleaf's annual message shows that he is not a public servant and be short of respect for womanhood in a modern society like ours.

"We think Minister Nagbe's uncontrolled, outburst in the midst of national and international dignitaries who had turned out on the invitation of the government shows his level of irresponsibility as a public servant and secretary general of the Unity Party," the release stressed.

The group believes that Minister Nagbe's action occasioned by an interview of an opposition politician on the state broadcaster and his threat to dismiss a colleague, Emmanuel Capehart, undermines media freedom and the government brags that not a single journalist has been injured by the administration.

The group indicated that the Minister should be informed that his authority does not extend at the state broadcaster to dismiss any employee, even though, he serves as board chairman of the state broadcaster.

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