Monrovia, February 8, 2015:The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) is challenging the Government of Liberia to walk up to its professed belief in a free press and open society by unconditionally releasing Mr. Henry Costa from further detention, stop further harassment of the Voice FM Family and open the National Chronicle Newspaper.
The PUL is rather disappointed that government will be abusing such basic and fundamental rights of innocent citizens, within days of President Sirleaf announcing a commitment to decriminalize speech offenses. This action is double standard and betrays the confidence of the Liberian people.
The PUL is concerned that regardless of the offense that Mr. Costa might have committed, the government needs to engage him in accordance with the law and not through chicanery. Using the curfew as a pretext to arrest anyone for another crime is so wrong.
"You cannot be talking of free speech, while at the same time harassing and arresting journalists seen to be radical or offensive on obstinately bogus charges," PUL President Abdullai Kamara alarmed.
The Press Union of Liberia recalls several abuse of media freedom last year, including the arrest of the very Costa, just days after the first joint meeting to review the draft law to decriminalize press; the harassment and detention of Octavin Williams on a trumped up charges of driving an unregistered vehicle and simple assault; the terrifying armed attack upon the Chronicle Newspaper and its subsequent closure; the humiliation of Women Voices Publisher Helen Nah for reporting corruption in the police, among others. "This trend is just despicable and unacceptable, and can never be testimony to a free press regime," Kamara berated.
Regrettably, though we raised all of these issues at the highest level of the government, and yet there has been no action to point out that the government has been in violation of basic and fundamental human rights.
"More worrisome than the arrest is the denial by police and security authorities to permit lawyers and international human rights monitors to have access to Costa and increasing reliable information we are getting about plans already in advance stages to shut down the Voice FM,” the PUL noted.
The Press Union of Liberia remains firm in its defense of the right to speech and guarantees of basic human rights, regardless of whoever may be involved.
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