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Press Freedom under Siege in West Africa: 30 Media Workers Arrested in 38 Days PDF Print E-mail
Media
Written by Media Foundation for West Africa   
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 20:47

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.

Details of the incidents in Nigeria as presented in a press freedom report on the month of January, shows a growing trend of intolerance on the part of security agencies. Twelve days after the arrest and detention of six technicians from the Ivorian state television, the Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) on January 31, another set of six journalists from four media organisations were arrested by the paramilitary group, Gendarmerie, after being accused of publishing what the authorities described as ‘false news’ and inciting soldiers to mutiny. Their arrest was on the orders of the Attorney General, Adou Richard Christophe.

The journalists – Coulibaly Vamara and Hamadou Ziao, of the Inter newspaper; Bamba Franck Mamadou, of Notre Voie; Gbané Yacouba and Ferdinand Bailly of Le Temps as well as Jean Bédel Gnago, the correspondent of Soir Info at 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’Alternative bi-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.

 

Editorial

Press Release : IPRA 2016 Conference Successfully Concludes

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development ‘in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.  

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Business News

ACC CAPACITATES SIERRA LEONE COMMERCIAL BANK STAFF ON ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ISSUES

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the request of the Management of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) on Thursday 20th July, 2017 commenced anti- bribery and anti-corruption training with staff of the Bank.

The training which was held in the Bank's Conference Room 9th Floor, Christian Smith Building 29/31 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown attracted over twenty members of the Executive Management.

Addressing colleagues, the Managing Director, SLCB, Idrissa Aloma Kamara disclosed that the Bank has integrated into the Bank's operations anti-corruption measures, such as the development of anti-corruption policy, anti-graft messages inscribed on Bank Statements and sensitization of staff on the dangers of corruption. With all these, the MD stated, it is the view of the Bank that the ACC which is the statutory body responsible for the campaign against corruption be brought in, to provide awareness training on anti-bribery issues for an efficient and effective banking system.

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Media News

Freedom of Expression Violations Rise Sharply in West Africa

The incidents of freedom of expression rights violations in West Africa more than tripled in the first quarter (January-March) of 2017.

Over the three-month period, a total of 47 violations were recorded as against 14 violations for the last quarter (October-December) of 2016. The violations recorded in the quarter under review range from arrests and detentions to physical attacks, online violations, shutdown of media houses, censorship, seizure and destruction of property and killings. The 47 violations occurred in 10 out of the 16 countries in West Africa.

These findings are contained in the latest edition of the West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor, a quarterly report by the MFWA which analyses and highlights freedom of expression developments in the sub-region.

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Commentary

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
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View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

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News - Press Release

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Ms. Browne wants the Board to hold outreach events in the village to educate the people on issues of law relating to domestic violence, gender, women’s rights, redress mechanisms and support services for victims.

‘We want to benefit from the Legal Aid Board’s Legal Empowerment Programme because there is an urgent need for one in the community,’ Ms. Browne told the Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles on the phone. ‘The situation is desperate. I am afraid if you do not come in now the situation could spiral out of control.’

The call follows series of referral of victims of domestic violence to the Legal Aid Board office in Freetown. The latest victim sent to the Board is one Baindu who was battered by her boyfriend Borbor Abu in the presence of their one year old son.

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Society -Local News

China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project hand over Agriculture Materials to the Ministry of Agriculture

On  21st July ,2017 at a handing over ceremony held at Ogoo Farm in Freetown, China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project Team handed agricultural materials to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS). 

The items include seed rice, maize, agro chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides and power tillers for farmers within the western area district. Dignitaries present included The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food security Prof. Monty Jones and his entourage ,  Mr Shen Xiaokai, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, the District agricultural officer, the Chinese technical team, National federation of farmers Sierra Leone representative and lot of farmers in the western Area.

During his statement, Mr Shen said for over 40 years China has been fulfilling its commitment to Sierra Leone with regard the agricultural technical cooperation project.

He said China will continue to assist Sierra Leone in its developmental strides by providing technical support and assistance and by also providing training to help develop the human resource capacity of the workforce.

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Development

30 Staff of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development will go China for Seminar on Economic Planning

Thirty (30) staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will depart the shore of Freetown to China on 14th August 2017. The purpose of their trip is to attend a seminar on Medium and Long-Term Economic planning for Sierra Leone. The National Development and Reform Commission of China will organize the seminar from 16th August to 7th September 2017 in the capital city of Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

The Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Freetown, Mr. Shen Xiaokai met with the 30 participants at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) on 2rd August 2017. In his remarks he told the participants that in December 2016, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo visited China, where they had high level bilateral meetings with Chinese Government Officials. 

He said this seminar is as a result of those meetings. “When China makes a commitment, China will fulfil it” he reiterated. He said The Ministry of Finance is one of the most important ministries in this country, therefore this seminar was designed specifically to meet the needs of the ministry.

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Politics

News from China, June 28th: Youth Affairs Minister addresses 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development in Beijing, China
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs has said, the 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development hosted by the Chinese government should help enhance the ties of friendship and foster the wheels of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and particularly strengthen cooperation in the field of human resource development.
 
Hon. Bai Mamoud Bangura spoke on Wednesday, 28th June, 2017, at the start of the week long Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation, which has brought together participants from various countries, including eight (8) from Sierra Leone.
 
According to minister Bangura, in line with the spirit of friendship and cooperation, the event could serve as an opportunity to jointly define new strategic directions in Sierra Leone’s ties with China and in opening up another episode of friendship and cooperation between the two.
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