The President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Abdullah Kamara, is calling on the Government of Liberia to re-open media houses that were shut down recently and introduce measures that will ensure individual and institutional respects for free speech in compliance with regulations.
Mr. Kamara said if the affected media institutions were reopened, it will help the general public in having access to unfolding issues from diverse sides of society. Speaking with reporters at a news conference over the weekend in Monrovia, he said the Press Union of Liberia was established to work toward creating adequate space for media flourish in the country, stressing that the organization remains committed to pursuing such role.
Kamara however noted that nearly 52 years later, the challenges that attended the formation of the union continue to remain in Liberia, adding that the irony of this is that Liberia today is led by a Nobel laureate and activist, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who once stood up against forces seeking to intimidate media.
He further stressed that in keeping with this commitment, the PUL is being disappointed by a calculated ploy by the government to close down several radio stations in the country or a still frazzled notion of regulations, registrations and so forth, emphasizing that this has already been actualized by the closure of Voice FM and now LIB 24, both owned by opposition leader Benoni Urey for evading taxes.
Kamara argued such action by the government is totally unacceptable, saying it is a grand plan at intimidation and at worse, tactics to beat the Liberian media into silence, something he said must be strongly condemned by all Liberians.
According to him, the closure campaign by government has presented the media space as an endangered environment which could, in the long term, lead to a censored and frightened media.
He said, it is no secret that LIB 24 has a partisan bent, and in fact stated that it was the real reason for which the Government, whose functions are supported by taxes, must be cautious in addressing such a situation in such a time like these, noting that in such a time and by said action, the Government has presented itself as an undemocratic and intolerant regime, pursuing scheme that are inimical to the principles of free expression and respect for divergent ideologies and views.
The PUL President said shutting down some media houses when the Government itself is being delinquent in pursuing taxes, does not signal good governance to the media when the government is the largest player in the economy and biggest debtor of media services.
He said the action by government is a double standard, does not work in the interest of democracy or support economic growth, but rather adds to the economic imbalance, worsening unemployment and increasing anger level in a country barely of the fringes of a devastating civil conflict.
He also stressed that the authorities here have an obligation to strengthen democracy and stability in Liberia, and must be seen enabling divergent views as opposed to exacting punishments, especially for known dissenters. Mr. Kamara also disclosed that by taking deliberate actions to shut down whether through the mean of contested laws and regulars, the government has reminded that the struggle to protect a free media landscape in the first place, and claims of the courts shutting down is as true today as it was with other vicious regimes like Tubman, Tolbert, Doe and Charles Taylor.
By: Zee Roberts