13 November 2017

Liberia: Journalists, Politicians Must Desist From Being Quack Legal Experts

Photo: This Day

EVER SINCE LIBERTY PARTY opted to legally halt the holding of the runoff Presidential elections; Liberia has witness an unprecedented rise of self-proclaimed or quack legal luminaries.

SOME ARE POLITICIAN OR SURROGATES, so-called advocates, or half-cooked journalists with little of no legal knowledge embarking on interpretations of our election laws, while ignoring the ramifications of venturing into a terrain that should be reserve for the schooled experts.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH is provided by our constitution but the same organic law warns that the conveyor shall be responsible for what is expressed. To give misinterpretations about critical issues that have the tendencies of making or breaking our fragile democracy equates to fueling a political or civil crisis.

POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE Facebook is often swamped with misinformation, while some mainstream journalists are consciously or unconsciously reporting poorly about the election impasse.

WORDS CAN BE HARMFUL THEN BULLETS, messengers of peace would idiomatically stress. And they would reference that the frequent misinformation and misinterpretation of the ongoing legal process between the Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission is sparking panic and uncertainties amongst many Liberians.

MOST OF THESE PREJUDICIAL REPORTS are stirring tension, creating even more uncertainties and leaving many Liberians in hysteria. Freedom of expression or freedom of Facebooking MUST also ensures enjoying it with a huge sense of social responsibility and love for country.

RUMOURS OF WAR AND BASELESS INKLINGS in our courts to amass political advantages at this critical time are ridiculously swelling the tension. These unscrupulous sentiments or speculations are also presenting flashbacks of the country's most recent horrible past, putting Liberians in despair, frightening potential investors and ruining the scanty gains already made.

IT IS A PITY FOR INDIVIDUALS or Journalists to present their self-interests driven interpretations of any legal case as facts. Although the trade we ply calls for herding for the details to report the first in order to gain favorable ratings within the media landscape, doing it unprofessionally is disastrous to the greater good of the MOTHER LAND.

A SIGNIFICANT TRAIT OF JOURNALISM is providing facts and nothing but FACTS! Keeping the interest of the society at the back of your head should be an unflinching aptitude.

WE THINK IT IS ONLY PRUDENT to seek legal experts or lawyers' interpretation of the law to avoid flawed reporting or dissemination of misinformation that would further deepen the fragility of our democracy.

WE ARE STRONGLY DISCOURAGING statements that wrongfully influenced perceptions that may later defer with the actual outcome of the legal procedurals of this case.

ONE OF LIBERIA'S LAWYERS, Onesimus Barwon recently strike a chord when he told a community media forum in Buchannan, Grand Bassa County that "legal issues are critical and the right information should be the only information disseminated to avoid tension".

THE FORMER GRAND BASSA and Rivercess Counties chief solicitor or county attorney comments should resonate with every Liberian. "We need to stop this 'they say business (rumors)' this can cause serious problems that might be beyond our control and the peace we are saying we want to keep enjoying will be damaged," Cllr. Barwon said.

WE TOO STRONGLY AGREE that only the court should be the reliance for the legal interpretation of the laws and serves justice to whomsoever deserves. This is the right path any democracy would thread.

BUT WE MUST ALSO LIMIT our bias against the court in order to curb misconceptions amongst the public. At the same time, we don not support corruption or misuse of power by the courts or selfish legal practitioners of the system.

WE BELIEVE IF WE MUST nurture our democracy the judicial process must be respected during this critical time and refrain from communicating any ill-fated sentiments to avoid manipulating others.

WHEN THE COURT IS ADDRESSING legal matters, let us all listen to legal experts and stop spreading false information that has the tendency of influencing violent actions.


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