6 April 2019

Liberia: Govt Reaffirms Commitment to Press Freedom

The Government of Liberia led by His Excellency President George Manneh Weah has reaffirmed its commitment to press freedom, as evident by the recent passage into law of the K. Abdulai Kamara press freedom law and the fact that since coming to power government had made sure that there are no journalists in jail.

This was disclosed by the Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), Hon. Eugene Lamin Fahngon during the regular Ministry of Information press briefing at the conference Hall of the Ministry on April 4, 2019 when making introductory remarks at the press briefing.

Quoting from a press release from his ministry signed by his boss Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Deputy Minister Fahngon who is also Deputy spokesman of the Liberian Government stated that the Government of Liberia is highly concerned over claims made by Radio Talk Show host journalist T-Max Jlateh that there exists a plot by some unarmed individuals in the country to assassinate journalists.

The release continues, 'although Mr. Jlateh did not make a formal complaint to the authorities, we consider such an allegation grave enough to warrant a speedy investigation by the government, adding that journalists are an integral prerequisite for a fully functioning democracy that the administration of President Weah is consolidating.

He said by the government's press freedom actions they are creating the space for all, including journalists to express themselves unfettered; so for anyone to be threatened on account of their views runs contrary to the intent of the new law, which will not be tolerated.

The release indicated that the government intends to work with the Press Union of Liberia and the journalism community on this alarming issue in order to get to the bottom of it, adding that there is no place for such intimidation and violence in the new Liberia.

"The government calls on Mr. Jlateh to cooperate with the relevant agencies and adduce all information available to assist in the investigation and so the government urges media practitioners to continue to contribute responsibly to the national discourse and avoid incendiary propositions that could undermine the peace," he concluded the release.

Giving updates on the events in the country, Mr. Fahngon reiterated that government is doing so many things within a minimum of period in power, citing the construction of the 'Gobarchev' Market at the Omega community in Paynesville area, the travel of the President and delegation to Senegal to attend the inauguration of Senegalese President Macky Sall and the programs marking Senegal's independence on April 4, 2019.

Minister Fahngon said due to the significance that this government attaches to the freedom of the press, the government is working on plans to convene the MICAT press conference at least 3 times week with one of it to be held at Executive mansion, adding that the president travels with a large delegation because you need a team to get what you want done.

According to Fahngon the Liberian and Guinean government officials are holding discussions to revive and implement plans for iron ore mined in the Guinean part of the Nimba Mountain to be shipped abroad using the port of Buchanan and the Liberian railway facilities, something that will provide job opportunities for many Liberians.

He said the construction of the Gorbachev market, named after the last President of Russia Mikhail Gorbachev will be implemented by the Liberia Agency for community Empowerment (LACE), adding that as a mark of our democracy after a long legal tussle in which all sides to the case was sufficiently heard, Associate Justice Jan'eh has been impeached and Judge Yussif Kaba has been appointed to replace him.

"Government condemns any form or acts of violence, which is why government is constructing courts in counties for the trial of rape related cases. Government has also taken prompt action to bring law and order to an instance of vandalism and rampage carried on by motor cyclists in Margibi county following reports of the death of one of their colleagues," he said.

According to Minister Fahngon, the incident followed the death of one Moses and due to the prompt intervention of the police 100 motorcyclists are detained to serve as deterrent while investigations into the matter continue. "We hope it will serve as a deterrent to other motor-cyclists not to take the law into their own hands, but ensure that the law takes its course", he said.

Liberia

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