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On World Press Freedom Day…

SLAJ urges gov’t against social media ban, internet shutdown

May 4, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie


President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) yesterday urged the government of Sierra Leone not to ban social media or shut down the internet during elections despite challenges associated with it, which can and should be addressed constructively.

The journalism fraternity in Sierra Leone yesterday joined countries around the world to observe this year’s World Press Freedom Day on the theme: “Critical minds for critical times and look at the media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
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The day was set aside by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to look at press freedom, examine how it works and remember those who died during the year under review, fighting to promote it.

During a symposium hosted in the Harry Yansaneh  Hall , SLAJ  Office in observance of the day, Kelvin Lewis said even though this year no journalist has neither been jailed nor convicted so far, there has been worrying signs of parliament summoning critical voices, leading to their detention and seizure of their passports.

According to him, there have been instances where government jailed young people for posting critical comments on whatsapp, and that the right to demonstrate publicly is always denied by the Sierra Leone police.

“We note the growing prominence of citizen journalism, the increasing popularity of social media and the dangers of fake news.  Over the past 4 years, reporters without borders have recorded a progressive drop of 13 places from 72 to 85 in its freedom of expression index for Sierra Leone. President Koroma has the opportunity to effect an improvement in the freedom of expression index before he leaves office,” he called.

As the journalism society examines this year’s theme: “Critical minds for critical times and look at the media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies, Mr. Lewis pledged that whilst SLAJ would never support any voice to destabilize the state, preach hatred or division amongst journalists, media outlets would be opened to all whose voices are marginalized, suppressed or denied.

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