Sierra Leone Association of Journalists calls on police and politicians to respect media freedom

Mohamed Asmieu Bah

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is pleased to officially inform its membership and the general public that the journalist who was detained on Monday, 11th November 2019, by the Sierra Leone Police has been released on bail through the intervention of the Association and the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The journalist, Salieu Tejan Jalloh, Manging Editor of The Times SL Newspaper, spent almost 24 hours in detention at the Criminal Investigations Department without any official charge or reason for his arrest.

While his release was our priority as we engaged with the Police throughout yesterday (Tuesday, 12th November, 2019), we wish to raise some key concerns.

SLAJ totally condemns the manner in which the Police moved in to arrest and lock up the journalist, who did not publish anything malicious or defamatory other than trying to crosscheck information that he had; which we believe is a standard journalistic practice.

Furthermore, the journalist alleged that the police officers who arrested him went to his office at Soldier Street, Freetown, on the pretext of wanting to place an advert in his newspaper, and manhandled him in the process of effecting an arrest.

We are particularly concerned that this is coming at a time when the Government has shown great commitment to repeal the obnoxious Criminal Libel Law and promoting media freedom.

“The action by the Sierra Leone Police was absolutely wrong and we totally condemn it. It is time to break this unholy partnership between the police and politicians locking up journalists from time to time using the Criminal Libel Law. The Police must understand that we are law abiding citizens and we are not criminals,” said the President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.

Meanwhile, while SLAJ will continue to engage the Police we also call on our membership to always practice within the parameters of the SLAJ Code of Ethics and the Independent Media Commission’s Code of Practice.

Author: Mohamed Asmieu Bah is the National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). 

Culled from The Telegraph.

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