Sierra Leone UPDATE: News blackout on police

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) on September 22, 2008 imposed a news blackout on police activities as part of a campaign to demand justice for journalists who were violently assaulted by personnel of the Sierra Leone Police Force in August.

On August 13 police personnel deployed at the country’s State House in Freetown, the capital, assaulted eight journalists covering a meeting between the two major political parties: the ruling All Peoples Congress Party (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).The journalists in the process lost equipment, including cameras, cellular phones and audio recorders.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that at a meeting on September 20, SLAJ members unanimously resolved that the blackout should remain in force, until the police provide adequate compensation to all the affected journalists.

The SLAJ said the police have failed to comply with recommendations of a committee that was set up to investigate the incident.

SLAJ said should the police fail to act on the request, it will further extend its action to the government, since some supporters of the ruling party also assaulted the journalists on the same day at the ruling party’s headquarters.

The Media Foundation for West Africa