Liberia: RAL Doubts Police Findings Into Death of Journalist Davids

-Vows To Take LNP To Court Over Brutalities Against Reporters

Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL), the biggest auxiliary of the Press Union of Liberia says it is taking the Liberia National Police (LNP) to task for continual violation of reporters' rights.

Addressing a news conference on Friday, the RAL's president Cecelia Clarke said they think their freedom to freely practice the journalism profession is under threat.

Speaking on the recent incident, madam Clarke said on Monday, two of the Association's members in persons of Emmanuel Davis of Fortune TV Online and Zayzay Ballah of Bush Chicken in a live video were abused, beaten by state securities and their equipment seized.

"We see the constant brutalities against journalists by securities as a calculated attempt to silence the media," Madam Clarke said.

The RAL president recounted the efforts they made alongside the Press Union of Liberia in addressing the constant attacks on reporters in Liberia.

She said, "Colleagues, if you can recall early this year, we started sensing increase in the level of violation of our rights as citizens of Liberia thus making us to join the Press Union of Liberia on the 12th of March to present our petition to the Liberian Government highlighting police abuse, assault of national security services on journalists."

The RAL boss indicated after they presented their petition to the Liberian Government, a committee was setup headed by former Information Minister, Dr. Larry Bropleh comprising the CEO of Security Expert Guard Agency of Liberia (SEGAL), Momo Cyrus, and the former President of the Press Union of Liberia, Peter Quaqua among others.

The RAL Leader said since the committee was constituted, they have only observed our members leaving because of the lack of will power by the government to give Justice to them, [the journalists].

"Sadly, all those same things we protested against in March of this year are even on the increase," she said.

She said, "How long shall we wait for justice to be given Journalists in this country? Are we not members of the Liberian society? We are going beyond this stage now!

"Let it be known to Liberians and the world that our lawyers are being consulted to test the country's Judiciary system. We are sure that the Judiciary system is the best place to seek Justice," she said.

In the press conference, Madam Clarke said relating to the death of their colleague Chris David of Bong County, they categorically doubt those findings from State securities.

"We want to publicly say that those findings are not true until a proper impartial investigation is conducted by an independent body to establish reasons behind the death of the journalist," the RAL president said.

Moreover, she said, "What was done recently by state securities linking the journalist to stolen goat was just a showmanship to make the society think otherwise about journalists in the Liberian society."

Recounting on similar situations, she said such things happened when journalist Tyron Browne was stabbed and there were all kinds of things said about his death. Journalist Darlington Pelenah was alleged to have been an armed robber in Liberia because someone wanted to indict him.

According to her, the journalist spent many months in detention and it was later established that the accusation was malicious and false.

The RAL leader said, "We are highlighting all these issues to tell you how people get at others for no reason and the case of Chris might just be the same as Darlington and Tyron."

Additionally, the reporter's body said, "As we go for these elections come December 8, 2020, we want to advise all of our colleagues to be very careful with how they go about their reportorial duties by observing all issues that have the ability to harm their security."

She said, "Remember, no story worth dying for!"

She used the press conference to send a caveat to media owners to attach value to their reporters by paying them on time and having some increment in their take home stipends or salaries.

"It takes away nothing from a media institution to pay reporters US$200.00 or above," the RAL president indicated.

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