Sierra Leone: Crimes Against Journalists On the Rise

-British High Commission

British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone,Simon Mustard

November 3, 2020

Media stakeholders at the ceremony

The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Simon Mustard, has said in a statement on Monday that the impunity with which crimes against journalists are committed continues to rise across the world.

"An estimated 495 journalists were killed between 2014 and 2018, an 18% increase over the previous five years. Only 131 cases of journalists' killings are reported as being resolved since 2006, representing an overall impunity rate of 88%," the statement said.

He was speaking at a breakfast presentation with the Deputy Minister of Information and other media stakeholders at the British High Commission to showcase the UK Government's programmes of support for media freedom in Sierra Leone.

The British envoy also used the occasion to launch the implementation phase of the PRIMED (Protecting Independent Media for Effective Development) programme and marked the continuation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's support to the development of trusted, inclusive and independent media in Sierra Leone.

The statement came days after Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio signed the repealed Part V of the Public Order Act of 1965 and enacted the Independent Media Commission Act 2020.

The British Envoy said it was a day that should be celebrated for media freedom and by all Sierra Leoneans.

While highlighting what the UK government has done for journalists in Sierra Leone, he pledged commitment to continue supporting media freedom around the world, including Sierra Leone, working closely in partnership with Government, Parliament and the media in recent years.

"We have helped train journalists, including more female journalists. We have provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Independent Media Commission (IMC)," he said.

He added that they would continue their partnership with the aforementioned organisations to help promote a liberal, forward-looking media system, underpinned and safeguarded by effective regulation. This important legal milestone is one more step in that collective journey.

The envoy said the PRIMED programme is a three-year programme that supports the provision of public interest media in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.

"It is implemented by a consortium of media support organisations with expertise in different aspects of media and development. Led by BBC Media Action, other core consortium members are Article 19, Free Press Unlimited, International Media Support and Media Development Investment Fund," he added.

He noted that the PRIMED would address challenges to public interest media at both the outlet and environmental level and seeks to build the resilience of media to political and economic pressures that undermine their viability.

He said the three year project would also supports the development of information ecosystems that enable a better flow of trusted public interest media content in three countries with different media environments, thus noting that Gender equality and inclusion will be integrated across the programme.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Mamadi Gobeh Kamara said the signing of the repealed Part V was 'the beginning of the end, we will continue to collaborate with our international partners to ensure the media landscape following the repeal is the best it can be'

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