The Female Journalists of Liberia (FeJAL) says it is gravely disappointed by the display of attitude exhibited by both the Elections Committee (EC) and the National Media Council (NMC) in handling the concerns raised by aspirant Facia Harris through team Harris as well as the Association in the pending Press Union of Liberia (PUL) leadership elections.
In its November 6, 2019 clarification, the NMC acknowledged that it did extend an invitation to Ms. Harris following her prior complaint of October 26, 2019, and in a letter from the EC on November 4, 2019, it informed the NMC of its inability to appear before the council due some overwhelming electoral matters, which for us is another flimsy reason as Ms. Harris’ complaint also borders on electoral matters.
FeJAL says it is indeed baffled that if the NMC had prior notice of the EC’s absence at such crucial meeting , why did it not notify Team Harris and the concerned parties about the EC’s excuse, yet had all parties present including the legal counsel of Ms. Harris; which for us was a serious waste of time.
Now that the elections are expected to be held on Saturday, November 9, 2019, which comes in a couple of days, FeJAL said it is using this medium to reiterate our disappointment over Ms. Harris’s calculated disqualification from the process due to an obsolete law that even the EC is finding hard to justify and as such has cleverly boycotted all mitigation processes aimed at ensuring due process for the aggrieved by their gross absence from Tuesday, November 5, 2019 meeting scheduled by the NMC.
The group said the disqualification of Ms. Harris has no magnitude as her current position at the Information Commission clearly spells out the Terms of Reference for the position of a Director for Outreach and Sensitization, a position she currently occupies.
FeJAL states and still maintains that as Director for Outreach and Sensitization is in no way a Public Relations Officer position, as the EC has made the public to believe because the IIC has no such position in its TOR.
Team Harris has earlier informed the pubic that she would exhaust all means for a redress available in reference to the EC’s decision to disqualify Ms. Harris on the grounds provided and FeJAL believes without doubt that she is on the right trajectory but the attitude of the NMC and the EC proved unacceptably that the Union is still in its state of gender insensitivity.
“For the NMC, which replaced the Grievance and Ethics Committee, now being the biggest platform for redress guarding against ethical issues from the public as well as “media-related” disputes, to provide an ill-packaged justification for not convening for its own called meeting further suggests to the Association that indeed the NMC’s action was glaringly intentional, disrespectful and grossly provocative, again being cognizant of its own Standard Operating Procedure that it cannot convene until there is a quorum,” FeJAL noted.
The Association will not hesitate to state that the action of members of the NMC to play less interest in attending that Tuesday meeting when it bordered on “media-related issues” was not only a slap in the face of Team Harris but also a lack of cordiality amongst themselves and a deliberate insolence to FeJAL as a participating auxiliary in the pending elections.
“If that has been our male colleagues with an inch of concern during this period even the leadership would have given them ears as done recently in the case of Webster Cassell and others in time past. This attitude must stop because females make up a significant portion of the voters’ roll and therefore that is an indication that they are a voice in the forward march of the Union,” President Siatta Scott-Johnson decried.
Meanwhile, FeJAL assures Team Harris of its unwavering support in whatever EXTERNAL LEGAL REDRESS it is contemplating on in the coming days that is intended to find closure to this matter and calls on Ms. Harris not to be deterred by the last minute ostracizes shown towards her by the PUL and its EC as well as the NMC’s lackadaisical behavior in mitigating when in all earnest; it was the organizer of said called meeting.
FeJAL wants to apologize to the legal counsel of Team Facia Harris for the embarrassment caused by the PUL’s Media Council on Tuesday.