By Amin Kef (Ranger)
The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) has released its June 2023 Media Freedom Review, revealing alarming incidents concerning media freedom in Sierra Leone.
Journalist Assaulted at Party Press Conference:
During a press conference held by the All People’s Congress (APC) party, BBC Correspondent Umaru Fofana was attacked by party supporters. The hostility continued in the hotel’s car park, with threats and indecent gestures. SLAJ condemned the attack, urging swift action from the party’s leadership.
Complaint Against Journalist Under Investigation:
A complaint lodged by Inspector General of Police William F. Sellu against journalist ,Alex Lawrence Koroma, is still being investigated by the Independent Media Commission (IMC). The radio station involved has apologized, but SLAJ and Parliament are yet to provide updates.
Alleged Assault and Vandalism at Party Press Conference:
Ibrahim Alusine Kamara, Managing Editor of Salone Compass Newspaper, reported being assaulted and having his vehicle vandalized at the APC’s Press Conference. The Police are expected to investigate the matter.
Other Ongoing Legal Cases and Initiatives:
* The case of former Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Lawyer Ady Macauley, is awaiting legal advice at the Directorate of Public Prosecution.
* Journalist Osman Hardy Jalloh’s complaint against Magistrate Joseph Toby is being monitored by MRCG.
* The trial of Alimamy N’Jai Sesay, charged under the Cyber Security and Crime Act, continues at the High Court.
* SLAJ launched the “Media We Want” manifesto, aiming to advance media freedom, safety, gender equality, and literacy in Sierra Leone.
* Capacity-building training on elections reporting and journalist safety, supported by IMS, was organized by MRCG.
Media Situation Room and National Fund for Public Interest Media:
MRCG established the Media Situation Room to monitor media performance during the 2023 General Elections. SLAJ, MRCG, IMC, and BBC Media Action launched the National Fund for Public Interest Media Sierra Leone (NaFPIM-SL) to address economic challenges faced by the media.
Radio Suspension by IMC:
The IMC suspended Justice Radio FM 98.5 and Justice Boima from participating in radio programs after an offensive audio broadcast. Allegations of bias against the Independent Radio Network (IRN) were dismissed.
The MRCG Bi-Annual Press Freedom Report for June to November 2023 will provide comprehensive details on the cases and issues mentioned. MRCG’s initiative for media freedom in Sierra Leone is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), aiming to foster democratic dialogue, accountability, peace, and development through an independent and free media.