MONROVIA – The Press Union of Liberia has released its latest Media Alert aimed at tracking attacks, threats and intimidations of media practitioners across Liberia in continuation of ongoing efforts to deter impunity against journalists and media workers across the country.
The Media Alert Report includes threats, attacks, lawsuits and intimidation of Liberian journalists by state actors, non-state actors, supporters of politicians and some other members of the public as well as ethical transgressions of media practitioners.
The Alert Reports will also highlight other major issues, including critical analysis of the trend being taken by the Liberian media environment, considering the nature of space being offered by state actors for the media to thrive.
This Media Alert Report of the Press Union of Liberia is made possible by a grant from the UNDEF and Strengthening Independent Media & Freedom of Information Project in Liberia being managed by VOSEIDA, the University of Liberia Department of Media Studies and Communications. The report covers the period of February 2023, and it is in continuation of the quarterly documentation of attacks and intimidations against journalists and media workers which will be published through the UNDEF assistance to the Union through VOISEIDA. See the report below…
As part of the UNDEF-funded Strengthening Independent Media & Freedom of Information Project in Liberia being implemented by the Volunteers for Sustainable Development in Africa (VOSIEDA), the Press Union of Liberia, and the University of Liberia Department of Communication & Media Studies is continuously receiving support to highlight support for media the media in the discharge of its duties. The project is intended to professionalize the Media in Liberia; and- enable reporting of attacks against journalists through a coordinated reporting system. This report represents the implementation of the rollout of partial activities aligned with the final quarter of the UNDEF Grant to the VOSIEDA and its partners.
During this period, the Press Union of Liberia tracked three threats against journalists but unfortunately, there were limited activities of the National Media Council.
This report covers the period of February 2023 and captured threats against journalists and media workers across the country.
The Alert Report, as we all may know have been focusing on threats/attacks and lawsuits against journalists and media institutions in Liberia, including issues of free speech. We have also tracked the deportment of journalists who covered the entire country during this quarter.
The methodology entails the review of local dailies, monitoring of local radio stations (newscasts and talk shows) and analysis of direct complaints from reporters throughout the country.
Figures gathered are normally verified by going on the troubled spots, getting in touch with independent sources on the ground, as well as making contacts with civil society actors. At the same time, the Media Alert Office makes contacts with the Press Union’s Coordinators in each county, as part of its tracking process.
Kakata, Margibi County- On February 9, 2023, Journalist Yawah Jaivey, a correspondent of FrontPage Africa reported fearing for his life after an anonymous individual threatened him via a phone call.
Journalist Jaivey had earlier written an article on a leaked audio in which Margibi County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh and some senior staff were discussing their involvement in financial corruption surrounding fraudulent billings and collection of kickbacks from vendors.
Journalist Jaivey raised concern that he fears for his life after some strange men riding a white Toyota SUV with the Ministry of Health inscriptions suspiciously passed around his home during the late evening hours (February 9, 2023) with one of the men on board the vehicle pointing his fingers at his residence
Jaivey’s article claimed the attention of the United States Embassy in Monrovia and expressed concern over the stealing of American taxpayers’ money intended to support health initiatives in Margibi County.
The US Embassy issued a statement of shock in Monrovia: The United States Mission to Liberia expresses serious concerns about the report in the February 2, 2023 edition of FrontPage Africa Newspaper regarding the misuse of funds provided by the United States Government to support health care for the people of Margibi County. We have a special responsibility to ensure that money provided by United States taxpayers for the benefit of the people of Liberia, including the people of Margibi, is used for its intended purpose.
The US Embassy lauded the investigative journalism that brought this story to light.
Journalist Jaivey’s article instigated immediate change after its publication, Health Minister, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, recalled all members of the Margibi Health Team that were involved in the leaked audio and turned them over to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation.
The Press Union of Liberia issued a release calling for the safety of Journalist Yawah Jaivey.
On Friday, February 10, 2023, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) through a press release said it is troubled by the complaint of a threat against Journalist Yawah Jaivey by the Margibi County Health Team.
The Journalist Union called the Government of Liberia to protect the reporter who had done a wonderful job uncovering the corruption.
Monrovia, Feb. 27, 2023, Journalist Lisa Diasey complained to the Union over harassment and threats from strange callers (men) over publication relative to the alleged murder of former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott daughter and reported attack on her home.
Journalist Diasey said these threats and harassment from these strange callers are pillared on why their news organ (WOMEN’s TV-Liberia) is continuing publication on the said matter and was the first to break the news.
In her complaint to the Union, Ms. Diasey indicated that: Callers were plain to issue a threat to my life as the Chief Executive Officer of WOMEN’s TV-Liberia to desist further publication on the matter else my life is at stake. Calls came in on separate numbers and were unknown (private) between Friday and Saturday. It is disturbing that our journalistic duty in Liberia in favor of the Public and Human interest is now under question by unknown individuals. I am very frightened and overwhelmed by the day that my life could be taken anytime because I do not know the individuals threatening me.
Journalist Lisa Diasey noted that these threats came after her news organ/outlet concentrated its publication on two cardinal human interest contents particularly reported attacks on the home of former Justice Scott which left her daughter murdered, the disenchantment of Gbondoi Citizens in Bong County District #3 over fake clinic being allegedly budgeted by Rep. Marvin Cole. Citizens alleged that more pregnant women have died in the area due to the lack of a health center in the district and that they have to travel some hours to find health services.
The Press Union of Liberia also called on the Government of Liberia to ensure the safety of Journalist Lisa Diasey.
On February 9, 2023, Journalist Sekou V. Sheriff filed a complaint informing the Union of a threat against his person by Ali Kobeissi.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Voice of Liberia said the threat was made during an investigation of the alleged threat stating of taxes by an Indian Businessman Jitendra Johnny Babani, owner of the Good Luck Hardware Center.
Journalist Sheriff complained that he was insulted and called a blackmailer during an investigation that did not involve Ali Kobeissi.
Based on the complaint, the Press Union condemned the act by Kobeissi and the Leadership of the Press Union of Liberia mitigated the situation, and an open apology was made by Ali Kobeissi to Journalist Sekou Sheriff. PUL PRESS RELEASE