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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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