Press freedom has come under severe attack in West Africa as security agencies, particularly the police, appear to be on rampage against journalists and media workers. In a space of 38 days (January 5-February 12, 2017), 30 media workers have been arrested, detained and/or assaulted by security forces, prompting fears that the gains that have been made in recent years on press freedom and freedom of expression could be eroded.
The 30 victims, made up of 15 journalists and 15 media technicians, were arrested, detained and/or assaulted in 10 separate incidents in four countries namely Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Togo. Nigeria recorded six incidents, Cote d’Ivoire recorded two incidents while Guinea and Togo recorded an incident each.
In Nigeria, seven journalists were arrested and detained during the period. In Cote d’Ivoire, six journalists were arrested and detained in a single incident while one journalist each was affected in Guinea and Togo, bringing the total number of journalists affected to 15. In respect of the other media workers, nine staff of a newspaper printing firm were arrested in single incident. In Cote d’Ivoire, six technicians working with the state-owned television station were also arrested in a single incident.
The journalists – Coulibaly Vamara and Hamadou Ziao, of the Internewspaper; Bamba Franck Mamadou, of Notre Voie; Gbané Yacouba and Ferdinand Bailly of Le Tempsas well as Jean Bédel Gnago, the correspondent of Soir Infoat Aboiso – had reported that the government had paid allowances being demanded by mutinous soldiers in the town of Adiake, a claim that the Attorney General, judged to be an “attack on national security.” They were interrogated at the national headquarters of the Gendarmerie and later taken into detention at a gendarmerie camp on February 12 before being released two days later.
In Guinea a reporter of Radio Lynx, Mariam Kouyaté, was on February 1, 2017 accosted by the authorities at a hospital in the capital, Conakry and subjected to intense interrogation. She was subsequently taken to the police station for further interrogation and forced to delete pictures she had taken of the hospital’s poor infrastructure.
On February 7, 2017, Robert Avotor, a journalist with the L’Alternativebi-weekly newspaper in Togo was assaulted by a group of gendarmes, while covering a land dispute. He was arrested, handcuffed and forced to delete the pictures he had taken at the scene of the dispute.
The above crackdown is a frightening flashback to the gross human rights abuses, including freedom of expression rights violations witnessed in the sub-region during the heady days of military dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s. Meanwhile, all the four countries in which these violations occurred have legal frameworks that guarantee media freedom.
The MFWA, therefore, urgently appeals to authorities in the West Africa region, especially authorities in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, to abide by their national constitutions as well as regional and international treaties that require them to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression. The MFWA also urges all countries in the region to take urgent steps to bring a halt, the increasing attacks on journalists and media workers.
2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul
The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th IPRA conference in Turkey, at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th IPRA conference in Istanbul to serve a second term of two years.
In Sierra Leone, the notion of corporate social responsibility has always been associated with the private sector. No wonder some people see the active involvement of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in corporate social activities as strange, and many have opined that a tax collecting body should not be engaged in corporate social responsibility activities.
However, the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on corporate image is immense, even for tax collecting bodies. The perception that tax collectors are monsters vigorously bent on collecting people's earnings with no care for the environment or the vulnerable in the community they operate is evolving. Indeed, many revenue authorities in Africa are today socially responsible.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in an article in its website argues that "the nature of Revenue Collectors' mandate makes them the hill of the nation such that whatever they do is mirrored and echoed by many".
The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.
The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.
Dr. David Tam-Baryoh: A New Broom in Sierra Leone Politics
Dr. David Tam-Baryoh is a household name in Sierra Leone, mostly because of his“Good Governance” popular radio programme called monologue. In fact the programme has become sopopular that most people prefer to call the presenter “Mr. Monologue”. Recently Mr. Monologue said in two or three of his programmes that he would be going intopolitics. It looked like a joke the first time he said it. But after saying it over threeor four times it is no longer a joke.
So Dr. David Tam-Baryoh is going into politics in 2018. Those who are very closeto him will tell you that this is a fact. The Doctor has made up his mind. Afterdiscussing and editing serious national issues on newspaper pages and on the airwaves for almost twenty five years, hehas decided that he cannot achieve much for the people behind the microphone and the pen. He now wants toengage into something that will make a direct impact on the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
And the Doctor thinks politics is the best way to do this, if we look at politics as“the authoritative allocation of scarce resources within a nation state.” He wants tobe part of the allocation of Sierra Leone’s scarce resources.
Precious Minerals, Public Trust and Government’s Openness
By late 2001, the Anti Corruption Commission arrested then Sierra Leone's transport and communications minister, together with his wife, “for involvement in illegal diamond mining” in Kenema district. Large quantum of illicit diamonds had been found in their possession, according to a BBC report at the time.
With some diamonds said to have been smuggled out of the country by the minister, the incident happened at a time when the rebel war was raging and the key perpetrators- the RUF were also seriously involved in illicit mining and smuggling. The minister was later jailed in 2003 for two years for illegal possession of diamonds.
Amongst other factors, Sierra Leone’s civil war was fuelled mainly by diamond, specifically “conflict diamonds”- those diamonds that originated from territories controlled by rebel forces (UN definition).
The Legal Aid Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution on Tuesday, 7 March 2017 resolved a long standing dispute in respect of a property on Newcastle Street, in Kissy, Freetown between one Mr. Solomon Samba Mansaray and his seventy-seven year old elder sister Madam Marian Kamara who is in the country on holiday from the United States of America.
The two who had not been on speaking terms were reconciled. Both promised to work together in the interest of peace in the family. In this vein, Madam Marian Kamara agreed to cancel a U$ 400 debt owed by Mr. Mansaray.
While the tension between the two had been lingering several years,Mr. Mansaray decided to report the matter to the Board in Freetown when he got information that Madam Marian Kamara was planning to sell theproperty. The owner of the property who is the sister of both parties had died over a decade ago without leaving a will.
As the Legal Aid Board prepares to provide legal assistance to indigents and children engaged in election related violence, it has successfully secured the discharge of a twenty-five old from Wilberforce in the West of Freetown charged with violence.
The Legal Aid Defence Counsel Hadiru Daboh secured the discharge after drawing the court’s attention to the failure of the complainant to attend court sittings for seven consecutive adjournments. What’s more, the complainant has not furnished the court with any reasons for his absence. Magistrate I.S. Bangura agreed with the Defence Counsel and discharged the matter. He noted that discharge would not stop the prosecution from reinstating the matter in future.
The accused, Alpha Kanuwho plied his trade as driver and apprentice at the Wilberforce lorry park got involved in a fight with his boss Michael Aruna in February 2017. He was arrested and taken to the Congo Cross Police station following a complaint by his boss. According to Alpha Kanu, his injuries were ignored by the police even though they were more serious. He spent fifteen days at the Congo police station before the matter was charged to court.
U.S. Africa Command Launches a 33-Nation Maritime Exercise: Sierra Leone Maritime “Full Speed Ahead”
During March 23-31, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) issponsoring “Obangame Express”, an in-port Command Post exerciseand at-sea maritime exercise designed to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.The exercise includes 33 partner nations, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The exercise is designed to improve cooperation andinformation sharing, and to refine tactics, techniques and procedures among participating nations.
The “Obangame Express”exercise will be based on realistic modern-day scenarios such as piracy, illegal fishing and hijacking. During the exercise,Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) will be challenged to recognize illicit acts and share trackinginformation with other MOCs throughout the region.
The winner of the Pride of Australia Award, Ansumana Usman Koroma popularly known as AUK has called on all Sierra Leoneans within and outside Sierra Leone to support and fully participate in both the ongoing voter registration that has started March 20 to end April 19 2017 and the forthcoming nationwide civil registration process slated April 24 to June 11 2017.
AUK who is a Political and Policy Analyst working in Australia said the mass registration of every citizen is a very important process in the development agenda of the country. He therefore appealed to all Sierra Leoneans to put politics aside and understand that the process would help government consolidate citizens’ data and enhance effective service delivery and improve monitoring of government programmes and policies.
He stressed that the national civil registration authority is created to promote a greater sense of nationalism and common identity.