MONROVIA – The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has strongly denounced the recent order by the Civil Law Court to shut down Spoon Network Incorporated, considering it a direct infringement on freedom of expression and the free press.
The PUL views this action as arbitrary, intimidating, and an attack on the fundamental principles of democracy. The PUL emphasizes that this court decision undermines democratic values and the significant progress made by governments to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and free speech. Such actions hinder the development of an open and transparent society.
In its official statement, the Press Union vehemently condemns the closure of the Spoon Network, describing it as a barbaric and harsh decision that seems to carry the venom of a politically exposed person. The PUL firmly believes that this matter should be treated as a civil issue and not a criminal one, highlighting the need for a judicial approach rather than a political one.
The Union insists that the action to issue a writ on a broadcaster with an attachment order is clearly to get it off air and has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the case. This action, the PUL says, is an intentional closure of Spoon Network, intending to damage its standard and lower its rating by the time the ban is lifted.
The Press Union of Liberia urges the relevant authorities, including the civil law court, to reconsider their decision and reinstate the operations of Spoon Network Incorporated. The closure of Spoon Network is aimed at stifling freedom of the press, especially in a country where the press is only partially free, according to freedom trackers.
The closure of Spoon Network by the courts suggests a deliberate attempt to restrict or suppress the press, which is a fundamental pillar of a democratic society. Freedom of the press is a vital component of a functioning democracy, as it allows for the free flow of information, promotes transparency, and holds those in power accountable.
The Union asserts that when courts are used to silence or hinder the press, it undermines these principles and threatens the overall democratic fabric of a country. The PUL laments that with the shutting down of Spoon Network by courts or using them to curtail the freedom of the press, it becomes difficult for journalists to carry out their work effectively.
They are likely to face legal hurdles, intimidation, or even imprisonment, preventing them from reporting on important issues or uncovering wrongdoing, the Union fears. Spoon Network has been in court since late 2022 after former Deputy Director General of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS), Wilmot Smith, filed a libel suit against the broadcaster.