7 January 2019

Liberia: Former Works Minister, Human Rights Lawyer Kofi Woods Slams Government's Posture Toward the Media

Monrovia — Former Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods says the current wave of attack on the Press Union of Liberia and the media by officials of government is unwarranted and represents an attack on every Liberian.

It can be recalled Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah promised to "weaponize" government's base so as to make it capable to deal with what he described as "mistruth and falsehood in the media."

In the same regard, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe branded the Press Union of Liberia as a 'useless' organization during a radio appearance

Woods said these unwarranted attacks on the media and the Press Union of Liberia are ill advised, adventurous and reflect a general state of paranoia at the highest level.

Woods said it was disappointing to see this government thread the same path of its predecessors because, according to him, it would end up like all those who preceded them.

"I recalled when we represented Rodney Sieh in the case against Chris Toe, George Weah now President Weah publicly supported Rodney and his cause. It certainly cannot be under the same Weah's leadership that similar episode will be repeated. It is incomprehensible," Woods said.

Woods added: "In our history, we have had lawyers to defend the Press from the atrocious onslaught of the government and the Press has survived. Lawyers and the Press have worked together in partnership and will do so now."

"The evidence is countless. We stood by the media and Rodney Sieh before and will do so now. No one high or mighty must intimidate the Press for by doing so you seek to intimidate the Liberian People and you will invite a resistance from a people who know too well the threat associated with this. We will not stand as observers in this matter."

The former Public Works Minister is calling on the Weah-led government to back down, adding that this is a fight that no previous government has won. "No government has ever won a battle against the media and certainly no government will succeed in doing so," he said.

The Press, Woods said, does not only represent freedom of the Press, it represents freedom of speech and is integral to the exercise of all other freedoms.

Continuing, Woods added: "Mr. Weah, if it was wrong then it is wrong now."

"You have an opportunity to show leadership and let no one use your hands to take hot palm kernel from the fire. Your government now faces one of the greatest challenges of all times and you must now rise to the leadership required to rescue your name rather than succumb to the whims of those who seek to do harm to our people. It is you, Mr. Weah, who will bear the greatest responsibility."

The government, Woods said, would fail the greatest test of will and it would contradict its stated commitment to decriminalize free speech while indicating its determination to pass a bill would permit its officials to pursue this course.

Woods is urging the Liberian National Bar Association and all lawyers to take note of this new development in the new political dispensation and convene a meeting with the PUL to discuss how a partnership can be forged to deal with this new wave of unwarranted and unchecked behavior.

"This time the Bar should be a real partner in averting a national catastrophe," Woods said

Woods is calling on the government and Liberians to focus on the real issues on the day: our people need bread on their table, Our Children must go to school and obtain quality education, Our health care system must improve and deliver on its promises, we must deal with economic growth and economic justice, end impunity for crimes committed against our people, promote accountability and integrity in government and foster national healing and reconciliation. There is enough energy required for this rather than surrender to the petty distractions that could dissipate our energies and create disharmony.

Liberia

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