News / Africa

Liberian Court Orders Reopening Of Closed Media Outlets

Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua says closing the stations is an attempt to frighten the media from reporting critical issues

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 wity Press Union President Peter Quaqua

James Butty

A Liberian judge Tuesday ordered the re-opening of four radio and three television stations sympathetic to the opposition which the government shut down one day before runoff elections.

The government accused the stations of broadcasting hate messages and spreading misinformation aimed at causing insurrection and disorder.  

Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua, who was in the courtroom, says the judge, James W. Zota, did not make evidence available to the lawyers representing the media institutions.

Quaua says he views the action against the stations, and the subsequent court proceedings, as an attempt to frighten the media away from reporting critical issues in Liberia.

“The judge ruled that the petitions filed by the Ministry of Justice and the Information Ministry were corroborated by the evidence the Ministry of Justice provided to the judge.  Dramatically, that evidence was never produced in court,” he said.

Quaqua says Judge Zota reviewed the evidence and said he was convinced the stations were guilty of broadcasting hate messages, misinformation and inciting violence.

In his ruling, Zota threatened to revoke the permits and broadcasting licenses of the stations if they repeated what he called the spreading of hate messages with the propensity to cause insurrection.

“We would have thought that the case would be used to teach some lessons, hopefully, to the media about some of the wrong things that their colleagues were doing.  But, that did not happen, and what we picked from the whole process is nothing, but what I would like to refer to as an attempt to really scare the media away from reporting critical issues in our country,” Quaqua said.

The Press Union of Liberia president said he also views the whole episode as an effort to force the media into self-censorship.

“I think it’s further intended to intimidate the media and subject the media into self-censorship, which for me speaks negatively to the idea of press freedom and [the] professed desire of the government of a free press,” he said.

He said Liberians should be able to have confidence in their judicial system.

“If you have to go to court and be subjected to these kinds of irregular hearings, I think it doesn’t speak well, and we don’t put the court into the position where people are running away from the court.  People will not respect the court,” he said.

Quaqua says a number of international organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists, and the Committee to Protect Journalists protested the closure of the stations.

“The West African Journalists Association, for instance, is also drafting a statement to criticize the closure of these media institutions.  We are also pleased to note the solidarity of the media community in Liberia around this issue, which also sends a very strong signal to the government and the people of Liberia about the need not to trample on the media,” Quaqua said.

He said media organizations are not above the law, but the government cannot use the courts to reach an end.

“The situation of November 7th was unfortunate; we do not support that.  But, we’d like to make it clear that the media cannot be used as a scapegoat in this matter,” Quaqua said.

Quaua called on Liberian journalists to continue to stay on the side of reporting public interest issues and not necessarily partisan issues.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid