On World Press Freedom Day… Calls Mounted to Stop Attacks On Journalists

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By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) joined Press Freedom Advocates across the World to Commemorate the ‘World Press Freedom Day’ 2024 in collaboration with the US Embassy in Sierra Leone. World Press Freedom Day 2024 was observed with a panel discussion on the theme: ‘Press Freedom and its Importance to Democracy’ at the American Shelf on Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone on Friday, May 3, 2024.

Panelists included President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) , Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, the US Ambassador Bryan D. Hunt, the Deputy Minister of Information and Civic Education (MoICE) Bockarie Bawoh and the President of Women in the Media Sierra Leone, Eastina Taylor. The discussion was moderated by SLAJ Journalist of the Year 2023 Amadu Lamrana Bah.

Speaking on World Press Freedom Day 2024, SLAJ President Ahmed Sahid Nasralla highlighted the significant strides made in promoting and protecting freedom of expression, press freedom and media development in Sierra Leone.

“The historic repeal of the criminal libel law in 2021 set the foundation for all these gains we have made and continue to make,” President Ahmed Sahid Nasralla stated.

He emphasized the achievements, including the establishment of the National Fund for Public Interest Media (NaFPIM) and the enactment of the Gender Equality Policy for the media.

The SLAJ President also noted the successful implementation of initiatives like the SLAJ Media Manifesto and platforms such as I-Verify and SLAJ SuperNewsRooms, aimed at countering disinformation and promoting information integrity.

Despite these advancements, he acknowledged challenges such as journalists’ safety, welfare, and online threats further urging for continued support from the Government, politicians and law enforcement agencies to ensure the protection of journalists.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla reiterated the importance of addressing online attacks on journalists and urged for collective efforts in promoting press freedom, defending journalists’ rights and advocating for a transparent and democratic society.

Other panelists made salient contributions with the unanimous call made to stop the attacks on journalists as well as underscoring the correlation between press freedom and democracy.

Moderating the panel discussion, Amadu Lamrana Bah underscored the critical need for a truthful and independent public interest media in Sierra Leone. He emphasized the symbiotic relationship between a government allowing media accountability and a media dedicated to truthfulness and public accountability.

It must be noted that in a recently released Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Sierra Leone climbed from 74th in 2023 to 64th in 2024 out of 180 countries. However, the report also notes press freedom violations observed since President Julius Maada Bio’s reelection in 2023, despite the decriminalization of press offenses during his first term.

In another development, the Media Reform Coordinating Group-Sierra Leone (MRCG) also commemorated World Press Freedom Day on  the  theme: “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis.”

The organization celebrated the fundamental principles of press freedom emphasizing the Government’s commitment to upholding freedom of expression and bolstering media freedom continually.

It continued by maintaining how this year, the focus is on highlighting the crucial role of journalism and freedom of expression amidst the ongoing environmental crisis.

According to the MRCG, journalists grapple with challenges in sourcing and disseminating information on pressing issues like climate change, pollution, deforestation, and more underscoring that addressing those challenges is pivotal for promoting peace and democratic values globally.

The MRCG utilized the occasion to acknowledge the media’s role in reporting on environmental crises, climate change, democracy, peace, and human rights in Sierra Leone.

It disclosed how they have been actively engaging coastal communities on climate change awareness and mitigation while advocating for media reforms and capacity building for journalists nationwide.

Additionally, the MRCG reminded the Government and development partners of the importance of the public interest media initiative, a recommendation stemming from the 2022 Media Viability and Investment Conference.

It highlighted that despite challenges, it has made strides in enhancing media freedom in the country revealing how seventy-six cases have been monitored across eleven editions of MRCG’s Press Freedom reports, with ongoing efforts to report and address press freedom violations.


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