Liberia: PUL Considers Legal Process On Closure of Roots FM

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Liberia police on patrol (file photo)

... Says it subscribes to the rule of law

The leadership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) over the weekend said it is carefully following the legal process on the violent closure of the Roots FM radio station owned by talk show host Henry Pedro Costa, a release has said.

The station was shut down on October 10, 2019, following a writ of search, seizure and arrest warrant issued October 9, 2019, by the Monrovia city court. The court's action, according to the PUL release, was predicated upon a request from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as a petitioner.

According to the writ, the MoJ prays the honor of the court to search, seize and subsequently arrest the respondent in violation of section 15 of the Liberia Telecommunication Act of 2007 and chapter 11 section 11.2 (d) of the criminal procedure law, which states that the respondents, according to the writ, are operating a radio station without a valid license.

The petitioner also maintains that failure on the part of the respondents to obtain a valid license and to pay for a radio frequency authorization fee to the government through the LTA is denying the government of its required revenue.

The Union said it subscribes to the rule of law and expresses the optimism of a speedy legal process to address the frequency fee payment issue. PUL president Charles B. Coffey had earlier recommended to the government the closure of Roots FM and Freedom FM on grounds that the two radio stations were preaching "hate messages."

The Union, on the contrary, has also vowed to uphold press freedom as well as free ventilation of the expression of ideas responsibly.

Meanwhile, the PUL has reiterated calls for "strict adherence to professional standards and societal norms by media institutions and practitioners."

The Union said its leadership's attention has been drawn to the persistent disregard of professional standards and societal norms by Freedom FM radio, though government actors did not close it down.

Despite several warnings, Freedom FM Radio, owned by Deputy National Security Agency Director Sam Siryon, is still broadcasting "hate messages, using invectives and profanities on the radio," the release said.

The Union believes such action by Freedom FM Radio management has the propensity to create chaos in the country, and therefore, urged the institution to desist.

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