News / Africa

Liberian Press Union Calls for Release of Jailed Journalist

FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)
x
FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)
FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)
James Butty
The Press Union of Liberia has condemned as “repressive” the seizure of FrontPage Africa newspaper and the continued imprisonment of its publisher and editor-in-chief Rodney Sieh.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling last month that the paper libeled then Agriculture Minister J. Chris Toe and ordered FrontPage Africa to pay $1.5 million in damages.

On August 21, authorities arrested publisher Sieh after he said his paper could not afford to pay the fine. Authorities also shut down the paper on Friday, August 23rd.

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that publisher Sieh has begun a hunger strike to protest his continued imprisonment.

Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua said that while the Union remains an advocate for the rule of law, it believes the nature of the court’s decision is intended to punish Mr. Sieh rather than repair the alleged damage to Mr. Toe’s reputation.

Quaqua said the Liberian government must step in to free publisher Sieh from further detention.

“And if that is the issue for which he now bears the punishment to spend virtually life time in prison, I think it is too much for our courts to do to anybody. So we’re calling on the court, we’re calling on the government to exercise some very high degree of wisdom to release this man (Sieh) from further detention,” he said.

In a press release Sunday, the Press Union said the Liberian government should have done more to investigate the circumstances under which Toe resigned as agriculture minister instead of punishing journalist Sieh for calling public attention to the story.
Butty interview with Quaqua
Butty interview with Quaquai
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Quaqua said the Press Union is not calling on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf per se to intervene in the case but rather the Liberian government as a collective body, including the courts.

“We’re not calling on the president. When we say government, this is a collective leadership of our country. We think the question that comes into our country today should be answered by the government, and the government spokesperson happens to be the president and those in authority,” Quaqua said.

Many legal analysts say FrontPage Africa should have encouraged its lawyers to make representation in the Supreme Court when the case was brought before the court. Instead, Sieh chose not to on the grounds that the court was biased against him.

Quaqua said the Press Union remains an advocate for the rule of law and will at all times encourage journalists who come in conflict with the law to submit to the legal system. But he said the union will not support the outcome of a court hearing that violates the basic rights of Liberians.

“The Supreme Court feels angered by this, and I think no journalist, no citizen should go to that length to disrespect the Supreme Court. But my argument with the court is that if Rodney did disrespect them in a particular matter, he should be punished for that but don’t give the verdict somebody else that really doesn’t deserve the argument that we are making today,” Quaqua said.

He said Sieh should apologize to the court, if he wants to, but not to anyone else.

Quaqua could not confirm or deny Sieh’s reported hunger strike, but he said it would be an unfortunate development.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned Liberian authorities’ shut down of FrontPage Africa and the imprisonment of Sieh.

Meanwhile, FrontPage Africa editor Wade Williams told VOA Sunday that the paper, which was shut down Friday, will publish a protest edition on Monday, August 26.

Agriculture Minister Toe sued FrontPage Africa in 2010 after the paper reported what it said were the findings of an official government investigation which accused Toe of corruption.

Toe resigned as agriculture minister and was never charged. In his complaint to the court, Toe said FrontPage Africa libeled him because he was never convicted.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Akande from: California
August 26, 2013 8:12 PM
They(governments and corrupt elites) want to silent press freedom.
They do not want the press to reveal their shady dealings and be hldld to higher scrutiny the office they hold. What a shame, in a country that witness horrible civil war. You will think a country like Liberia will promote press independence and not deprive Liberians the ability to voice their displeasure by having a vibrant press. Instead, we have a judicial system punishing the press. The silence of the adminstration about the sentencing of the publisher is disheartening and thus bring a troubling welcome to Liberia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid