By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) has pointed out, in its 2nd November 2023 Press Release that it is joining other organizations to observe the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ adding how the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 2nd November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ in a General Assembly Resolution.
MRCG also maintained that the UN Resolution urges Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity also highlighting how the date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on the 2nd November 2013.
It continued that the landmark resolution condemns all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, also urging Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers and ensures that victims have access to appropriate remedies.
Also mentioned was that since 2018, the MRCG with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the United States of America, has been monitoring and publishing reports on media freedom detailing cases of invitations, intimidations, attacks, assaults, arrests, detentions and prosecution
Further underscored was that MRCG’s tenth report on ‘Press Freedom in Sierra Leone’, which was published and launched in May 2023, showed that from the First to the Tenth Edition, sixty-six cases have been monitored, of which forty-seven of them were concluded, settled, resolved, dropped or abandoned because of lack of progress; four were in court; and fifteen under police investigation/inconclusive/stalled.
MRCG stated that as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ is observed, it reminds the Government of Sierra Leone that in March this year, it monitored the attack and assault of the Station Manager of Fountain of Peace Radio (FOP) in Moyamba District, Southern Sierra Leone, Alie Tokowa, at the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) office in the district allegedly by its supporters on the instruction of the outgoing District Council Chairman of the party.
The organization stated also that it monitored the attack on the BBC Correspondent in Sierra Leone, Umaru Fofana, by supporters of the All People’s Congress (APC) party during the party’s Press Conference at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown in June 2023. It added how Umaru Fofana was officially invited by the APC to cover the event.
MRCG also claimed that in June 2023, it received a copy of a letter of complaint from Ibrahim Alusine Kamara, Managing Editor of Salone Compass Newspaper, stating that security officials assaulted him, endangered his life and vandalized his vehicle during an incident at the APC’s Press Conference on 25 June 2023 at the party’s headquarters in Freetown.
It pointed out that it also, monitored the online death threats against journalist Musa S. Kamara, working for Radio Democracy 98.1 FM from anonymous individuals on 20 August 2023 which followed an exclusive interview he had conducted with the then United States of America’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, on the post-election crisis in the country.
The MRCG also stated that it is calling on the Police to speedily investigate those matters also maintaining that it notes that issues relating to the safety and security of journalists go beyond politicians and the Police, as there are reports of attacks on journalists from local authorities, youth and members of the public.
It also added how it wants to remind media owners and managers that one of its reports shows that majority of the media houses lack a safety and security policy and there were concerns about
addressing the welfare of journalists.
According to the organization, those are all safety and security issues and therefore continue to call on the Government, politicians, media organizations, media owners and managers, civil society organizations, and members of the public to ensure the safety and security of journalists across the country at all times.