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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid