By Ishmael Dumbuya & Elizabeth Kamara
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru, has noted that it’s as a result of the reckless use of social media that Sierra Leone has dropped to 28 points in the World Press Freedom ranking.
Solomon Jamiru was on May 4 addressing journalists at the usual weekly press briefing at the Ministry Information, where he admonished Sierra Leoneans to be peaceful and law-abiding, especially as the June 24th presidential and parliamentary elections draw closer.
He however, noted that violence against journalists in Sierra Leone has declined significantly in recent years with imprisonment virtually disappeared.
While observing the World Press Freedom Day, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla noted that journalists are not immune to harassment and arrests by the police, who can confiscate their equipment.
“The main threat to journalists’ safety comes from politicians who often use the police to try to obstruct their work. Journalists also sometimes face online threats and intimidation. In April 2022, an apparent attempt was made to set fire to the home of a journalist while he and his family were asleep inside. The journalist, who is based in the north of the country, had been doing investigative reporting on sensitive subjects,” said Nasralla.
For Jamiru, the dream of President Bio is to have and live a peaceful Sierra Leone, where investments will thrive, reiterating that the reckless use of social media has to a large extent resulted to many violent activities over the past months in the country.
In his own submission, a representative from the Strategic Communications Unit, Imran Sillah, explained that the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
He said the index aims to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories, adding that President Bio is very much concerned about the welfare of journalists hence he over the years made the environment friendly through the repeal of Part Five of the Public Order Act of 1965.
Imran Sillah noted that most media outlets are free of direct control by politicians, who, by law, are only allowed to establish newspapers, and not radio stations or TV channels.