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Bar Association raises concern over arrest of journalist

…defence lawyers meet Tam-Baryoh

NOVEMBER 6, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Dr. David Tam-Baryoh
Dr. David Tam-Baryoh

The Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) has written to the Director of Crime Services requesting for “better understanding” of reason(s) for the arrest and detention of journalist Dr. David Tam- Baryoh.

The presenter of the popular good governance programme ‘Monologue’ was arrested by state security officers on Monday night (3 November), apparently on “Executive Orders” from President Ernest Bai Koroma.

He was transferred to the correctional centre on Pademba Road on the subsequent day, despite his health condition being described as a “hypertensive emergency”.

There is still no official statement as to why he was arrested, but reports are that it could not be unrelated to utterances he is reported to have made during the ‘Monologue’ show last Saturday.

But the Bar Association letter urged the head of crime services to proffer “grounds for the arrest and detention and whether any charges have been brought against him [Tam-Baryoh]”, adding that they would appreciate if a reply is provided within 24 hours upon receipt of the letter.

“The SLBA is naturally concerned when journalists are being arrested and detained. Accordingly, in order to better understand the situation, we respectfully request that you inform us of the grounds of his arrest and detention and whether any charges have been brought against him,” the letter said.

The letter added: “We remain conscious of our social obligation to protect the rule of law and to render advice on contemporary national issues of legal significance.”

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the detained journalist – Melron C. Nicol-Wilson and Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai – were granted access to meet him yesterday at the Pademba Road correctional centre.

They said Mr. Tam-Baryoh had instructed them “to pursue a non-litigious means (including dialogue and negotiations), without prejudice to other available legal options to secure his release in view of his health conditions and concerns for the psychological wellbeing of his wife and daughter”.

They said his health situation had dramatically improved, compared to the day he was arrested, and that his doctor had visited him twice since his arrest.

“Dr Baryoh has not complained about detention conditions and is coping with the situation. He is grateful to his friends and colleagues for their support including press releases during these difficult times,” the release concludes.

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