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As Awareness Times faces libel charges in court today…

SLAJ yet to take position

September 30, 2016 By Alusine Sesay

The Awareness Times Editor and proprietor would today appear before the Magistrates’ Court on five count charges of conspiracy and defamatory libel, but the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ)  is yet to take position on the issue, although they are vehemently advocating for the decriminalization of Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act under which the duo were charged.

Abdul Malik Bangura, Acting Editor of the Awareness Times and his Proprietor, Sylvia Blyden, current Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs were dragged to court by Yasmin Jusu Sherriff for the above offences.

SLAJ scribe, Ahmed Sahid Nasrallah yesterday told Concord Times in a telephone interview that “We are yet to meet as executive and take position on the issue. May be we would think about that after the court hearing.

The umbrella media body has over the years been fighting tooth and nail to ensure the decriminalization of Part 5 of the Public Order Act of 1965, referring to it as a bad law. They are currently negotiating for an alternative civil libel law as a replacement for Part 5.They recently held a symposium at the Miatta Conference centre in which government and other state officials made commitments to expunge the said law from the country’s law book.

Talking to Concord Times on the libel lawsuit against Awareness Times, Nasrallah noted that “you know we just concluded a symposium on the Criminal Libel Law and we are currently busy working on the papers that should be presented to government and other partners.

Court Charges are that Dr.Sylvia O.Blyden and Abdul Malik Bangura of the Awareness Times on September 20th, 2016 maliciously published a defamatory libel matter against the complainant to wit: Yasmin Jusu Sheriff disgraced herself and our country by engaging in corrupt and inappropriate acts like smuggling her brother –in-law to be employed without due process at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission leading to her getting the disgraceful sack from TRC Executive Secretary position by her uncle, former President Kabbah.

It could be recalled that Dr.Sylvia Blyden was expelled from SLAJ after she fell out with the association on various issues and her editor Abdul Malik Bangura is also not a member.