News / Africa

Sierra Leone Charges Editors for Comparing President to Rat

A child street vendor stands in front of a poster for Sierra Leone's ruling party presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma, Freetown, Nov. 16, 2012.
A child street vendor stands in front of a poster for Sierra Leone's ruling party presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma, Freetown, Nov. 16, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Sierra Leone has charged two newspaper editors with 26 counts of seditious libel after they published an article comparing President Ernest Bai Koroma to a rat, a senior official said on Thursday, stirring concern over press freedom.
 
Jonathan Leigh, managing editor of the opposition daily Independent Observer, and its editor, Bai-Bai Sesay, have been detained since their arrest last week, and were denied bail at the court hearing on Wednesday.
 
Journalists in the West African country said they would boycott government press conferences in protest and the head of their association, Kelvin Lewis, told Reuters it was the worst attack on the media since the country's 1991-2002 civil war.
 
Reporters said police had raided the offices of several media organizations since the publication of the article which alleged friction between Koroma and his vice-president and said the president was behaving like a rat.
 
The West African country has enjoyed extensive press freedom during Karma’s presidency and it was this year promoted to "free" from "partly free" by press watchdog Freedom House.
 
But rights groups say recent events suggest a change in attitude.
 
Koroma has twice warned in recent weeks that "the honeymoon for reckless journalism" would soon be over.
 
Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate release of the two journalists, while Amnesty International urged the government to drop all charges.
 
"Criminal defamation charges against media workers highlight the incredibly worrying climate for freedom of expression in the West African country," Amnesty's Sierra Leone researcher, Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, said.
 
Seditious libel carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
 
Ibrahim Koroma, head of Sierra Leone's Criminal Investigations Department and not related to the president, said the case has been adjourned until Oct. 29.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid