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COMMUNIQUE OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) OF THE SIERRA LEONE ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS (SLAJ)

We, the participants at the 2014 Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Annual General Meeting held in Makeni from the 5th to 8th  June, on the theme ‘An introspective look at the Sierra Leone Media: Professionalism and the Public Good’:

  • Critically examined the current state of the media in Sierra Leone in line with local and international standards of media practice, particularly in terms of performing our responsibility to the public;
  • Accepted that the level of professional media practice in the country is improving, but acknowledged that more work needs to be done particularly in terms of journalists abiding by ethical standards;
  • Adopted the revised Constitution of the SLAJ, as reviewed by the Sorie Fofana Constitutional Review Committee, with necessary modifications, clarifications and subsequent amendments;
  • Discussed that the SLBC was set up as a public service broadcaster, but has so far been unable to fulfil its mandate due to a variety of reasons. That a properly functioning SLBC is critical for the further development and sustenance of democracy;
  • Believed that a strong and independent IMC capable of effective monitoring of the media to ensure full compliance with the Media Code of Practice is critical for the growth and independence of the media in Sierra Leone;
  • Believed that Part 5 of the Public Order Act, 1965 is a major impediment to freedom of the media and that the IMC being the media regulatory body in Sierra Leone, should play a leadership role to have this section of the Public Order Act repealed;
  • Believed that it is unethical for a journalist to work for a media institution without a salary and that such a practice encourages unethical practices by media practicitioners.

We hereby resolved as follows:

  • That permission is hereby granted to alter the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (Limited) made this 7th day of June in the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen;
  • That the adopted 2014 Constitution of SLAJ be incorporated into the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (Limited) made this 7th day of June in the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen;
  • That the revised Memorandum and Articles of Association of SLAJ be adopted this 7th day of June in the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen;
  • That all media practitioners and/or personnel must desist from all unprofessional conducts and practices;
  • That SLAJ shall call on the IMC to take steps to strengthen its Complaint Committee and speedily investigate all complaints and take prompt action;
  • That media practitioners, owners and other media personnel shall at all time endeavour to adhere to the provisions of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act and the Media Code of Practice;
  • That SLAJ must re-launch and popularise the reconstituted Disciplinary Committee among all its members and the general public;
  • That the said Committee be empowered by the National Executive with support from the general membership, to judiciously perform its assigned functions, and to speedily review and enforce the reactivated SLAJ Code of Conduct;
  • That any journalist who breaches the Code of Conduct must be brought before the Disciplinary Committee for investigation and possible action if found wanting;
  • That SLAJ shall within six months, convene a way forward for SLBC that will among other things ensure its political and financial independence;
  • That the IMC Act shall be reviewed to be in line with current international trends on media development. That SLAJ shall engage the IMC with a view to ensuring that the IMC commences production of a monthly bulletin detailing violations of the IMC Code of Practice by media houses;
  • That SLAJ shall call on the judiciary to ensure that all the matters currently before it and others that shall be brought in the future relating to the IMC be speedily resolved. That SLAJ shall engage the IMC to get information on the status of the matters currently before the courts which it shall distribute to media houses so the issue can be brought to the public attention;
  • That SLAJ shall intensify its advocacy efforts for the repeal of the criminal and seditious libel laws, including the drafting and presentation of a comprehensive position statement to the Constitutional Review Committee for consideration. That SLAJ shall engage the IMC in discussion to ensure that the IMC plays a leadership role in the repeal of the said laws;
  • That SLAJ shall take concrete steps to ensure that all journalists are paid at least the national minimum wage. That SLAJ shall institute punitive measures, including naming and shaming those media houses that are engaged in the practice of not paying journalists;
  • That  all SLAJ representatives in institutions shall be required to submit reports to the executive of SLAJ every six months;
  • That SLAJ shall employ an Administrative Officer who shall be in-charge of the day-to-day running of the Secretariat. The official shall be accountable to the President and the Secretary General of SLAJ;
  • That affiliate bodies of SLAJ must submit a comprehensive financial report, along the narrative reports of their status at Annual General Meeting and Triennial Conference of SLAJ;
  • SLAJ shall strengthen its linkages and relationships with international affiliate bodies, the Government of Sierra Leone, local and international partners and media associations;
  • That media owners shall fulfil their financial obligations to IMC and the National Telecommunication Commission (NATCOM).

Done in Makeni on this 8th day of June, 2014 and adopted by the Conference assembled

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