News / Africa

Liberian Newspaper Slapped with $1.5m Libel Ruling

Justice of the Supreme Court of LiberiaJustice of the Supreme Court of Liberia
x
Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia
Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia
James Butty
Liberia’s Supreme Court has ruled that a $1.5 million verdict against the FrontPage Africa newspaper should be enforced.  

A lower court ruling in 2010 found the paper guilty of libelling former Agriculture Minister J. Christopher Toe.

It said then that FrontPage Africa did not provide evidence to support its claims that Toe diverted millions of dollars intended to fight an army worm infestation in Bong and Lofa Counties. Toe later resigned without stating why.  

Rodney Sieh, publisher of FrontPage Africa said he stands by his story and that the Supreme Court ruling is intended to shut down his newspaper. 

“I was kind of not surprised because we’ve been hearing that they were going to do this and so we were kind of anticipating it to come out.  Asking us to pay $1.5 million is like telling us to shut our paper down.  They will have to close down because we cannot afford to pay that money, and we insist that our story was factual,” Sieh said.

According to some legal analysts, FrontPage Africa can petition the Supreme Court for a re-argument of the case, but that would require the approval of one of the court’s justices.

Sieh said he did not appeal the lower court ruling because he believed he could get a fair hearing before the Supreme Court.
Butty interview with Sieh
Butty interview with Siehi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“The problem is our court reporter informed us that some of the lawyers had problems because, in our Supreme Court fight, we said that we could not find a lawyer that would understand the media landscape.  Mind you, no newspaper has won a case in Liberia against any government official,” he said.

He said he has notified the Press Union of Liberia and was in the process of notifying the Committee to Protect Journalists about the court decision.

Sieh said it appears President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government has been encouraging its officials to sue newspapers.

“In the last three, four months alone, several government officials have been suing newspapers at random, and it is becoming glaring that the administration is encouraging government officials to sue newspapers. Even if a newspaper has supporting documents and evidence to support their story, they are being sued.  So, we have no other option but to keep fighting,” Sieh said.

Sieh said he does not have faith in the Liberian justice system.

“As it stands now, we don’t have confidence in the judicial system in this country because the ruling in this case was based on our experience with the Supreme Court justices last year in the Angel Tokpah case,” Sieh said.

The court ordered Sieh jailed for 30 days and fined for contempt in January, 2011 after an editorial he wrote criticizing the court for being biased.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian War Massacre Anniversary Resolution

update Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs