Information Minister Denounces Attacks on Press Freedom, Emphasizes Support for Media Pluralism

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah, during a recent Press Conference held  on Tuesday, April 9, 2024,  vehemently condemned all forms of attacks and threats towards journalists in Sierra Leone. He went on to hail President Bio’s progressive reforms, which he said, aim at promoting press freedom and encouraged journalists to maintain professionalism in their work.

He underscored the Government’s unwavering commitment to press freedom, security, education, and civil society involvement.

Making specific reference to Amadu Lamrana Bah of AYV, whom he said faced attacks while carrying out his duties, the Minister strongly denounced attacks on the Fourth Estate reiterating President Bio’s dedication to Press Freedom and the protection of journalists as well as stressing on the importance of factual reporting and professionalism among journalists.

He extended an open invitation to media practitioners for the verification of information at any time saying that the National Security Coordinator of the Office of National Security (ONS), Abdulai Caulker, declared that the national security situation remains stable as well as calling on the public to support law enforcement efforts.

According to him, the National Security Coordinator of the Office of National Security (ONS), has outlined key initiatives, including a firm commitment to supporting the fight against drug trafficking with specific focus on tackling the importation, manufacturing and distribution of drugs.

The Minister further pointed out that a toll-free number, 119, had been unveiled across all networks to report criminal activities, including drug-related offenses as well as the establishment of a dedicated national security situation room operating 24/7 to respond promptly to any report.

He said the country’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the Press with the Government taking steps to support media pluralism and independence.

The Information and Civic Education Minister, however, maintained that challenges persist, particularly regarding media sustainability saying many outlets struggle financially, leading to potential compromises in journalistic integrity and self-censorship.

He highlighted that journalists in Sierra Leone often face intimidation, harassment, and violence, especially when covering sensitive issues like corruption or human rights abuses underscoring that the lack of sufficient legal protection exacerbates those risks.

According to the Minister, while the Government has made efforts to improve media laws and regulations, challenges in implementation and enforcement remain. He said Civil Society Organizations and international partners play a crucial role in advocating for Press Freedom, supporting journalists and promoting media literacy.

Chernoh Bah argued that despite positive developments such as the decriminalization of defamation and efforts to enhance access to information, more work is needed to strengthen press freedom in Sierra Leone.

He intimated that ensuring the safety of journalists, promoting media professionalism and addressing the economic sustainability of media outlets are essential steps towards fostering a vibrant and independent media landscape that will serve the public interest.


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