Government loses legal fight against Punch FM
By Lincoln G. Peters
Liberia’s newly appointed Chief Justice Sie – A – Nyene G. Yuoh has ruled that the government here violated the constitutional right to due process of private media entity Punch FM in suspending its license.
The Supreme court of Liberia on Monday affirmed the Ruling of the Six Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court ruling and commanded the judge presiding there to resume jurisdiction over the case.
Incoming Chief Justice Yuoh read the Supreme Court’s decision Monday, 26 September 2022, maintaining that the trial court properly assumed jurisdiction over the petition for declaratory judgment.
She ordered it to declare the right of Punch FM to operate under the license it had been granted by the government.
Owned by Liberian broadcast journalist Patrick Honnah, Punch FM and the Liberian Government have been in years of a legal battle after its license was suspended ahead of resuming broadcast.
Chief Justice Yuoh said while the Executive Law Revise Code 12.31 grants the government the authority to regulate the Fourth Estate, however, in the present case, the government violated the station’s constitutional right to due process.
She said the government suspended the station’s license without conducting a hearing.
Justice Yuoh noted that the continued closure of the station’s premises without any justifiable reasons violates its right in respect.
“Wherefore, and in view of the … foregoing, the final ruling of the Civil Law Court is hereby affirmed for reason detailed in the opinion of this Court out of which this judgment emanated,” she noted.
Speaking after the ruling at the Supreme Court, Mr. Patrick Honnah, Chief Executive Officer of One Media Incorporated, owner of Punch FM, said the court’s decision is a victory for all Liberians.
According to Honnah, it is time that all Liberians trust the court system.
He said if he could win a case that was highly contested by the Government of Liberia at the Supreme Court, it should signal that anyone can win a case through the court system.