River Gee County Senator Conmany Wesseh says a media commission for Liberia is underway to be fully supported by the Government of Liberia thru the national budget.He says when established in collaboration with development partners, the commission would regulate the media landscape here and protect journalists from intimidation and harassment.
Critical journalists continued to face harassment from law enforcement officials on alleged offenses, including defamation, immigration or curfew violations, and bank theft.
Official harassment sometimes comes in the form of arrests on charges unrelated to a journalist’s work. In February 2015, after the attorney general stated that he would act against anyone inciting unlawful behavior, a popular radio host, Henry Costa, was briefly arrested for violating the curfew, and another host was investigated for possible immigration violations.
While in detention, Costa was reportedly denied access to counsel, food, and sleeping blankets. He had previously been arrested in 2014, after ex-President Sirleaf’s sons filed a complaint against him.
In June 2015, the publisher of Women Voices newspaper, Helen Nah, and her fiancé were arrested for bank theft. Nah described her arrest as“witch hunt” in retaliation for her paper’s reportage on police officials’ alleged misuse of Ebola-related funds.
But Senator Wesseh assures that with the coming in of a media commission, practitioners would operate smoothly and peacefully.
He dismisses fears by some people such commission would undermine independence of the media, noting that the media will remain free and active like other integrity institutions, including the General Auditing Commission and the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Liberia National Students Union and the entire leadership of the Students Integration Movement and the campus-based Students Unification Party at the University of Liberia have petitioned the Liberian Legislature through Senator Wesseh to declare 24th January each year as ‘national students day’ which is to be observed as a working holiday throughout the country.
Sen. Wesseh expresses his willingness to forward the petition before full plenary of the Liberian Senate for possible passage and subsequent concurrence by the House of Representatives.By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor