President Bio Engages IMC on Repeal of 1965 Public Order Act

President Dr. Julius Maada Bio held a significant engagement with the Chairman and Commissioners of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) on October 26, 2023 to discuss the aftermath of the repeal of Part Five of the Public Order Act of 1965, which had previously criminalized free speech and hindered professional journalism in Sierra Leone.

During this meeting, the IMC provided updates on the overall progress in the media landscape. They highlighted a noteworthy shift, revealing that following the repeal of the oppressive legislation, an impressive 90 percent of individuals with grievances against the media and press now turn to the commission for resolution, rather than seeking redress through the courts.

Dr. Victor Massaquoi, the Chairman of the IMC, commended President Bio for the repeal of this antiquated law, recognizing it as one of the most substantial achievements in Sierra Leone’s history since gaining independence in 1961. Dr. Massaquoi elaborated on the IMC’s accomplishments during their 20 months in office, including the development of a strategic vision that bolstered the commission’s reputation, advancements in monitoring, research, and staff development.

He emphasized that the removal of the anti-press law had further empowered the commission, resulting in an increased reliance on them by the public for addressing media-related concerns. This shift has led to heightened public trust and confidence in the IMC’s ability to regulate the media.

While acknowledging the commission’s successes, Dr. Massaquoi also outlined some of the challenges they face. However, he highlighted positive aspects such as securing scholarships for staff members to pursue professional training abroad. Additionally, he called on President Bio to support community radio stations in championing the government’s Big Five Game changer initiative, particularly the FEED SALONE program.

President Julius Maada Bio expressed gratitude to the Chairman and Commissioners of the IMC for their commitment to updating him on their activities. He underscored the Commission’s direct accountability to his office and the importance of staying informed about their operations.

President Bio emphasized his dedication to ensuring that all sectors of Sierra Leone work together effectively. He acknowledged that the government’s capacity to absorb graduates into the public service is limited and expressed hope that the FEED SALONE initiative would stimulate widespread development, create employment opportunities, enhance food security, and drive economic growth for the nation.

“The FEED SALONE initiative will engage our youth and help make our public sector more productive. Our government is determined to deliver results, and our machinery must be up to the task. Accelerating development is a top priority, and integrating the Big Five Gamechanger into your activities will provide valuable insights on how we can promote our nation. This should be the concern of all citizens,” President Bio urged.


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