25th July 2017
Journalists Used and Misused by Some Politicians in the 2016 Media Report
By the Ranger (21/06/17)
Politicians using and misusing some twisted Sierra Leone journalists for selfish gains are the main issues in the Media Reports 2016.
Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI) recently launched its annual State of the Media in Sierra Leone Report. Among issues raised in the report are the difficult circumstances journalists in Sierra Leone work under and the issues surrounding journalists who allow themselves to be used by politicians. (Pictured: Journalist-cum-politician Dr. Sylvia Blyden flanked by a cross section of the Sierra Leone press).
In the chapter ‘Constitutional Provision on the Role of Mass Media’, the report states that the constitution of Sierra Leone makes clear provisions for the role of Mass Media in promoting democracy and good governance in Sierra Leone.
It states that: “Members of the Fourth Estate (the press, radio, television and other agencies of the Mass Media) shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this constitution and highlights the responsibilities of the government to the people.”
It added that part of this responsibility includes holding government to account, reporting on and exposing corruption, reports responsibly and credibly and above all, do so without fear and favour.
According to the report, despite the growing foothold of democracy, there still remains some grey areas in our democratic institution which needs the collective effort of dedicated, courageous, patriotic and committed individuals to ensure that the principles of good governance that foster growth of a democratic nation are adhered to in Sierra Leone.
On the issue of freedom of expression, the report states that freedom of, and access to information is recognised as a fundamental human right, and described in the first session of the UN General Assembly as the touchstone of all freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.
It added that the right to truth is a positive obligation imposed on knowledge bearers. The right to truth is not contained in any legally binding human rights treaty or convention but has been acknowledged in human rights council resolution 12/12145 and under principle 4 of economic and social council commission on human rights report on the principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity.
Notwithstanding, there are still outstanding issues such as the Criminal Libel and Seditious Law which criminalises free speech and which President Ernest Koroma promised, during his 2007 political campaign, that he would expunge from our law books.
However, this is yet to be done. The question remains then as to whether the enabling environment would be created soon to enhance the performance of the media in improving public oversight of government actions. Over the years, the function of the Mass Media continues to be undoubtedly shifted because of political unwillingness to expunge this bad law in our law books.
In other words, it would be in place for the Criminal Libel Law of 1965 to be repealed and replaced by a Civil Libel Law, but this is yet to happen.