November 25, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
The Sierra Leone Bar Association has condemned the position taken by the Ministry of Information and Communications to hold whatsApp administrators responsible for any information they considered to be ‘contrary to the values of the society and has the tendency to threaten the stability of the nation’.
It could be recalled that the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Information published a minute paper dated 18th November, 2016 and signed by its Director of Communications.
The government noted among other things that “whatsApp administrators would be held wholly responsible for creating and hosting a platform that does not only run contrary to our values as a society but also threatens the stability of their beloved nation.”
The Minute Paper was published days after the arresting and subsequent charging to court of Theresa Lusenie Mbomay and Bokai Kokofele for allegedly sharing a post that the government considered as threat to national security.
Both accused have been put on Le50 million bail each, while the trial continues in the magistrate court.
In a press release issued yesterday by the Sierra Leone Bar Association, they noted that they were worried about the said position of the ministry and were of the view that the nature of whatsApp social medium messaging platform, group administrators cannot be held responsible for the content of posts.
The released that was signed by the Association’s Secretary General, Julian Cole Esq, noted that such position was an attempt to crackdown on the freedom of expression as guaranteed in Section 25 of the constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991.
“The Association therefore hereby calls on the government of Sierra Leone to abandon the position contained in the Minute Paper and watch against all extant and prospective policies and or actions that may attempt to compromise the nation’s constitutionally guaranteed idea of free speech which is an indispensable pillar of our nations burgeoning democracy,” the release said.