MRCG Boss, Dr. Francis Sowa
By MRCG Secretariat
The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) welcomes the Ministry of Defence (MOD) investigation into the allegations concerning the attack of journalist Maada Jessie Jengo of the Voice of Peace and Development (VOPAD) radio by soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF).
In a press release issued on 8 July 2022, the Office of the Directorate of Defence, Public Relations and Information states that “the MOD regrets the unfortunate occurrence which does not represent the RSLAF core values of good discipline and selfless service.” The MOD notes that its attention was drawn to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) press release of 4 July 2022 reporting the alleged assault of the journalist. The MOD release notes that “the soldiers have been identified and an investigation into the allegations is ongoing in accordance with military procedures.” The MOD assured SLAJ of RSLAF’s commitment for mutual cooperation and cordial relationship in the discharge of their duties.
Meanwhile, the MRCG also welcomes the move by the Clerk of Sierra Leone’s Parliament to constitute a committee to investigate an alleged ‘physical assault’ on journalist AbdulaiGbla and make recommendations. The MRCG is also delighted that even before the committee commences investigation, the Clerk of Parliament according to a press release issued by SLAJ had apologized to Mr. Gbla. The MRCG in its monthly Media Freedom Review has been following the matter. Abdulai Gbla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gbla TV Online on 28 June 2022 wrote a letter of complaint to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) regarding an alleged ‘physical assault’ on him by a Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana of Constituency 121. Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana in response told the MRCG that he ‘did not assault’ the journalist as he had alleged, but rather ‘hit his phone to stop filming the incident’ after he had previously asked the journalists not to film since the parliamentary sitting had been adjourned.
The MRCG commends the actions of the MOD and the Sierra Leone Parliament to investigate the matters, and looks forward to speedy investigations. It particularly notes the interventions of SLAJ into the matters and views the steps taken by the institutions as indicative of the fact that the culture of impunity is no longer tolerated in a democratic society like Sierra Leone where the rule of must prevail.
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