Liberia: An Open Letter Urging the Press Union Leadership to Stay Engaged in the Roots FM Case

press release

October 17, 2019

Mr. Charles B. Coffey, Jr

President

Press Union of Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia

Dear President Coffey

As a member and former official of the Press Union of Liberia, I write to urge you and the leadership of the Union to remain engaged with developments surrounding and following the closure of Roots FM until the case is brought to a logical conclusion. This means taking interest in and fully following any court processes that may be going on since the abrupt and violent closure of the station.

I believe the engagement of the Press Union leadership should not end with the issuance of a press statement following the closure. The world is watching and watching keenly.

The Press Union of Liberia has always taken interest in court cases involving the works of media institutions and people whether or not they are members of the Union which, in my opinion, is a good thing to do.

I believe if the main reason for which Roots FM was shut down, as stated in the Liberia Telecommunications Authority's letter to Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, is because the station was operating without a valid license, the Union can work with the station's management to ensure that this important requirement is met. I am confining my plea to this aspect of the reasons for which the station was shut down because to the best of my understanding, the LTA communication to the justice minister did not mention any other reason than the station's existence without a valid license.

I urge you to engage the National Media Council and old minds and hands in the media community and the PUL legal people to join your leadership in getting involved in whatever effort that would lead to the resolution of this aspect of the reasons for which Roots FM was closed.

My plea comes against the background that whatever the reasons are for the action taken against Roots FM, this is not the kind of news the Press Union of Liberia wants to hear go out of Liberia, especially as the Union marks its 55th anniversary this year.

Like we did in the past, for example the case of FrontPage Africa's Rodney Sieh, we should take interest in the case involving Root FM until the case is disposed of.

Just as the Press Union of Liberia should not encourage impunity and unprofessionalism, it should also not allow and support the targeting of institutions and individuals for what they believe in.

I really hope, Mr. President, that we, the media community, will in the coming weeks get some very clear understanding from you about what has happened to the court case involving Roots FM.

All the best and thanks for being on top of the situation from the initial stage.

Sincerely yours,

Jonathan Paye-Layleh

Member, Press Union of Liberia, Former Chairman, Press Club, Press Union of Liberia, former Chairman, Grievance and Ethics Committee, Press Union of Liberia

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