News / Africa

Liberian Press Union Says Reopening Media Outlets in Country's Interest

Press Union President Peter Quaqua says citizens should get their news and information from different media sources

Press Union of Liberia president Peter Quaqua (left) with journalist Aaron Kollie
Press Union of Liberia president Peter Quaqua (left) with journalist Aaron Kollie

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to Butty interview with Press Union President Peter Quaqua

James Butty

The president of the Press Union of Liberia has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to lift the ban on the broadcast stations the government shut down.

The closures followed deadly clashes Monday between police and supporters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change.

Peter Quaqua said closing the three radio and television stations has been an attempt to silence dissent and force the media into submission.

Meanwhile, government prospectors Thursday were unable to convince a court why the stations should remain closed.  They requested that the court force station personnel to provide information to help them in their case.

Quaqua said keeping them closed is not in the interest of the country.

“We were in court and, as a matter of fact, [saw] the very huge presence of journalists who had assembled to show [their] solidarity.  We also saw civil society people and, interestingly, some politicians, as well as students.  The court requested the prosecution provide evidence.  And, what was interesting to hear was that the prosecution made a request [to] the court to issue a writ to be served on the institutions to provide the evidence,” he said.

In a petition to the First Judicial Circuit Criminal Court of Montserrado County, the government said the stations “illegally used their respective media outlets to broadcast hate messages against the government and deliberately spread misinformation and messages of violence, and instigate the people to rise up and take to the streets and engage in confrontation with the Liberia National Police and the United Nations security forces.”

But, legal experts say the prosecution’s strategy to get the court to make the media institutions provide evidence amounted to asking the journalists to incriminate themselves.

“They are alleging that the [media] institutions were preaching hate messages, and they were inciting the population against the government. They said all of that. They’ve not been able to bring that to court but, instead, they are asking the court to ask the media entities to produce those materials in court,” Quaqua said.

While acknowledging the authority of the court, Quaqua called on President Sirleaf to reopen the stations because, he said, shutting them is not in the interest of the country.

“Based on what we saw in the court, it gives us reason to believe that the president needs to act.  We’d like to call on the president to think very seriously about reopening of the radio and television stations so that they begin broadcasting,” he said.

Quaqua said it was in the interest of the country to have the citizens get their news and information from one media source.

“We advocate about media pluralism and diversity in the media. These institutions have been providing alternative views to the people, and I think it helps with our democratic process for people to make choices about what they listen to,” Quaqua said.

Quaqua also appealed to Liberian journalists to play what he called a stabilizing role, especially in the wake Monday’s deadly clashes between the police and CDC supporters.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs