The Liberian government Tuesday banned The Independent newspaper from publishing for one year. The government has been criticized for hastily closing the paper. But information minister Lawrence Bropleh said the paper exposed Liberian children to pornography by publishing the nude picture of former minister of state for presidential affairs Willis Knuckles having sex with two women.
“The government has decided to revolt its (The Independent’s) rights to publish for one year because the paper…published a pornography, a nude picture of former minister Knuckles and women having sex, was warned by the Press Union, was suspended for three months last week, and this week the paper came out again went and published again a half nude photograph of former minister Knuckles,” he said.
Bropleh agreed the one-year suspension might be too severe. But he said the government has the right too protect the society.
“It may be, James, but this paper had openly defied the body that it has its membership in – the Press Union – and came right back only after five days of being told not to publish. But also we feel that we have the right to protect the society. This is an era of civility, and we have children, we have the elderly in our community. They should not be subjected to pornography in the regularly daily newspaper,” Bropleh said.
The minister denied the closure of The Independent newspaper was the government’s vendetta against the paper for outing former minister of state for presidential affairs Willis Knuckles.
“This has nothing to do with former minister Knuckles. This has something to do with the ethics of journalism. This has to do with understanding that when you’re in a civilized society, you do not publish pornography in a regular newspaper. It could have been anybody. The moment you publish a pornography picture, you are subjected to the law, and this is a breach of the laws under the penal code of Liberia,” Bropleh said.