Sierra Leone: MRCG Amplifies Calls To Prioritize Safety of Journalists

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Dr. Francis Sowa

On the day marking International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the National Coordinator, Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) Dr. Francis Sowa has urged the government, media organizations, civil society and the general public to ensure the safety and security of journalists across the country at all times, whilst also commending steps taken to addressing impunity for crimes against journalist in the West African nation.

‘’ The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) joins other organizations to observe the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists‟ today Wednesday 2nd  November 2022. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2nd November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists‟ in a General Assembly Resolution. The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. It also urges Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability, bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies,’’ he said.

Dr. Francis Sowa said since 2018, the MRCG with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the United States of America has been monitoring and publishing reports on the exercise and legal guarantees of press freedom and freedom of expression issues in Sierra Leone, including invitations, intimidations, attacks, assaults, arrests, detentions and prosecution of journalists and civil society activists; and also tracks media performance.

‘’ The last report on ‘’Press Freedom in Sierra Leone‟ released in May 2022, notes that the MRCG has so far monitored fifty seven; forty two of them had been concluded, settled, resolved, dropped or abandoned, because of lack of progress; four were in court; and eleven under police investigation/inconclusive/stalled. http://mrcgonline.org/index.php/impact-resources/220-final-ned-eighthedition-press-freedom-report-2022,’’Dr. Sowa added.
The MRCG National Coordinator went on to say that in August this year, MRCG with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) finalized the draft Policy on Safety of Journalists in Sierra Leone adding the policy is part of several initiatives aimed at providing a conducive environment for media practitioners in the country; an environment in which media practitioners are safe and feel confident in executing their tasks in society.

‘’In July 2022, the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) with funding support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Ghana and UNESCO IPDC organized a one day Forum on safety of journalists and Media security relations in Sierra Leone adding a comprehensive National Framework for Safety of Journalists in Sierra Leone was developed and launched,’’ the MRCG boss added.

The MRCG National Coordinator added a National Coordination Committee for the Safety of Journalists has also inaugurated stating these are signs to show steps are being taken to address the issue of impunity for crimes against journalists but said the government, media stakeholders and the public should continue to do more to ensure the safety and security of journalists at all times.

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