In her Annual Message to the Joint Session of the 53rd Liberian Legislature on Monday, January 26, 2015, President Sirleaf unveiled plan by her to submit a number of bills to that august body to decriminalize all media-related laws and decrees, currently affecting the work of journalists in the country.
According to the President, repealing such bad laws and decrees was intended to create an enabling space for Liberian journalists to work freely and accordingly.
She told members of the Legislature that the expected bills to be submitted shortly are in compliance with the Table Mountain Declaration she signed in 2012, calling for a hindrance-free working environment for journalists.
While we cautiously hail the President for such pronouncement in the interest of Liberian journalists, we can only hope that such move will be made practical. Had it been the first time for such pronouncement, our hope would have been very high. This is the third in three annual addresses that Madam President has committed her administration to repealing all draconian media laws and decrees strangulating media freedom in Liberia.
In as much as we, as working journalists highly appreciate the fact that she could sign the Table Mountain Declaration in 2012 and even assure us of repealing the ugly laws and decrees, we think we are all on the path to total freedom – even though we say this with caution.
The President could further do justice to the process, in terms of disabusing our minds of any apprehension, by acting swiftly in submitting the bills as per her indications to the 53rd Liberian Legislature. We think this could also not only negate our thinking, but equally pressurize the Legislature in deliberating and passing such bills into law.
While we anxiously await the submission of these bills by the President for possible enactment by the men and women on Capitol Hill, we-journalists and media owners, must exercise the highest degree of restraint, professionalism and responsibility in the occupation we find ourselves.
In view of the foregoing, we strongly emphasized the need to desist from all of the vices which play on our integrity and the profession we find ourselves. This is against the backdrop of the way most of our colleagues conduct themselves in the eyes of the public, so much so that we continue to face negative expressions from the public, even though all of us may not be involved in such ‘mercenary journalism’.