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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora