President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reaffirmed government's commitment to upholding and promoting a vibrant and free press in Liberia.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf was speaking on Friday, July 14, 2017 during a One-Day Retreat and Interactive Discussion with Media Executives in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.
She said the government remains unrelenting in addressing anti-free speech and related instruments that are still part of our stature. The Liberian leader made particular reference to our Criminal Libel Law. She noted with grave concern a chain of unbalanced, erroneous and fictitious publications that injure the reputation of people and called for professionalism on the part of the media.
At the one-day retreat, media executives adopted a Peace Compact aimed at ensuring an objective and nationalistic spirit of reportage before, during and after the elections - while heralding non-violence throughout the process. Media Executives resolved to adhere to their Journalistic Creed during the October Presidential and Representatives elections; and agreed to sustain the peace that is currently being enjoyed. The Peace Compact seeks to ensure best practice in journalism are upheld; and for ethical standards to inform the journalistic profession.
Speaking at the one-day retreat, the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Charles Coffey thanked President Sirleaf for organizing the Retreat, which he described as rewarding. He noted that President Sirleaf has exhibited good leadership skills that need to be emulated by all. Mr. Coffey noted that the PUL has constituted a National Media Council to handle all disputes between journalists and members of the public. He pledged the PUL's determination to ensure that all journalists uphold ethical standards in the performance of their duties.
In brief remarks, Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe commended President Sirleaf for conceiving the idea of the one-day with retreat for media executives intended to work towards promoting healthy environment between government and the media. He extolled media Executives for responding to the invitation positively.
The retreat was attended by several media executives from both the print and electronic media.
In another development, President Sirleaf has challenged the Liberian Women National Political Forum and UN Women to be strong and committed as they approach the October elections. She made the comments in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County at a start of 3-day capacity building workshop, which took place from July 13-15, 2017.
The workshop under the banner: "Politics Is Women Business Too" sought to acquaint female candidates with campaign strategies in the upcoming elections. It was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection with support from the Government of Sweden. 40 female aspirants were trained for the October 2017 elections.
President Sirleaf congratulated the women and said she remains committed to improving the status of women, protecting their rights and encouraging their participation in all spheres of national endeavor especially the upcoming elections.
She encouraged the women to be strong and committed in their undertaking because is not going to be easy due to the large number of participants in the upcoming elections. "You earned the right to compete, work for it," President Sirleaf said.
The Liberian leader noted we need peaceful elections that will be freed and fair and void of violence. "This election will determine whether we go in forward as a country or come back as a country," she indicated. She told the women that she will play a presidential role to ensure the women have access to all public facilities as their male counterparts during the upcoming elections but was quick to tell the women to always show love for country in all they do.
Speaking on behalf of the Women, Mrs. Margaret Korkpor, a representative aspirant on the ticket of the UPP in Nimba County thanked President Sirleaf for the visit and for always identifying with women at all levels. She said President Sirleaf has done many great things, and called on female candidates to also contribute to society too. "President Sirleaf is an inspiration for us and as such we are looking up to her as an example that will continue to help us address the many challenges women face," she emphasized.
For his part, PUL President, Charles Coffey commended the Women for recognizing the Press Union of Liberia. He noted the PUL is committed to promoting and giving women opportunity to ensure gender balance as evidence by the support given the Female Journalist Association (FIJA), an auxiliary of the PUL.