World Association of News Publishers

WAN-IFRA welcomes release of Liberian journalist

WAN-IFRA welcomes release of Liberian journalist

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WAN-IFRA welcomed the decision by Liberia's Ministry of Justice this week to release on compassionate grounds Rodney Sieh, the publisher of FrontPageAfrica, who was jailed in August for not paying fines for libel damage.

Mr. Sieh was jailed on 21 August following his inability to pay an exorbitant US$1.5 million fine imposed in a Supreme Court ruling convicting him for libel.  In 2010, FrontPageAfrica reported the findings of an official government inquiry that accused the former Minister of Agriculture, J. Chris Toe, of corruption. Mr. Toe resigned from his position but was never charged.

WAN-IFRA, in partnership with the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) and The Press Union of Liberia, held a conference with Liberian Minister for Information, Culture & Tourism, Mr Lewis Brown, to express grave concern about the jailing of Mr Seih.  WAN-IFRA was pleased to learn from the Minister that a commitment was given to introduce a new bill in parliament in January 2014 to amend the criminal codes regarding defamation.

"We were delighted when Liberian president, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the Declaration of Table Mountain last year, committing Liberia to repeal criminal defamation and insult laws.  We were therefore bitterly disappointed when Mr Seih was jailed for libel damages because the laws had not yet been repealed as promised. We are urging the government to reform the libel laws as soon as possible and we will continue to work with local partners and the government to ensure this happens in a timely manner", said Alison Meston, WAN-IFRA Press Freedom Director.

WAN-IFRA's Declaration of Table Mountain is an earnest appeal to all Africans, particularly those in power, to recognise that the political and economic progress they seek flourishes in a climate where the press is free and independent of governmental, political or economic control.


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Alison Meston


2013-10-09 11:10

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...