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IMC concludes a two-day retreat in Bo

The Independent Media Commission (IMC) with support from the BBC Media Action PRIMED Project has concluded a two-day maiden retreat for Commissioners and senior management staff of the Commission at the Galliness Paradise Hotel, Bo City on Saturday 12th March 2022.

The retreat was officially opened by the Resident Minister South Hon. Mohamed Alie. The purpose of the retreat was to usher in the new Board borne out of the provisions of the 2020 IMC Act, in order for the newly appointed Chairman and Commissioners to hit the ground running and operate optimally; and to bring Board members up to speed with the provisions of the 2020 IMC ACT which is the key document that guides and defines the operations of the Independent Media Commission, focusing on the key duties and responsibilities of Commissioners and the key powers given to the Commission in the discharge of their duties.

Speaking on his vision and mission for the Commission the Chairman Dr. Victor Massaquoi said among other things he plans to rebrand the Commission to regain respectability; mobilize resources to address critical needs of media monitoring and other IMC operational needs (logistical needs); acquire Media monitoring equipment and software for the Headquarter and 5 regional offices (radio, television); digitalize the IMC library; relocate the office to ensure security, independence, respectability and space; increase staff number – professionals, media monitors; conduct nationwide training for all media houses on the IMC Codes of Practices to ensure continuous ethical behaviour and professional practices; intensive weekly complaints hearings at the headquarters and monthly complaints sessions in the provinces to enforce the implementation of the provisions in the IMC Act 2020 and Media Code of Practice; enforce compliance by media houses to pay minimum wage, NASSIT and Taxes; and to review the Media Code on Elections Coverage and Reporting and aggressive collection of licencing fees and fines and to secure vehicle(s) and motor bike(s) for sensitization, monitoring and provincial complaints hearings, among other things.

Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq. commissioner representing civil society on the new IMC Board took participants through the legal framework of the IMC Act 2020 giving all its précised and appropriate interpretations. Ahmed Sahid Nasrallah, President Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) spoke on the relationship between his association and the Independent Media Commission which he said is cordial though there were some minor complaints about unfair treatments by the commission during complaint hearings.

Dr. Francis Sowa took the new Board and senior management staff through the provisions of the reviewed IMC Media Code of Practice for print and electronic which awaits parliamentary approval and the strategic vision of the Commission (Strategic Plan); while Commissioner Mustapha Mende Koko Sesay spoke on the committees of the commission with special reference to the complaints committee. Among other topic covered was Strategic Media Monitoring Technologies\technical capacity building system for IMC facilitated by Commissioner Samba Sesay; and strategies for resource mobilization and working relationship between IMC Commissioners and the staff were jointly facilitated by the Chairman Dr. Victor Massaquoi and the Executive Secretary Khalil Kallon.

Statement of commitment to support the media in Sierra Leone was also made by the Country Director, BBC Media Action Dr. Mahmoud Tarawallie. The launching of the special IMC Newsletter (Media Watch) on Complaints and Rulings 2021 by the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists formed the high point of the occasion.

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