PRESS RELEASE Date: 24 February 2011
SLAJ Condemns AG’s implied threat to use Criminal Libel Law
Freetown: The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in an Extraordinary General Meeting on Thursday 24 February 2011 at the SLAJ Headquarters in Freetown expressed grave concern over the threat by the Attorney General to invoke provisions of the 1965 Public Order Act against the Awareness Times Newspaper.
The Attorney General, in a letter of complaint dated 22 February, 2011 to the Independent Media Commission against the newspaper and its publisher and author of the article titled ‘WHAT’S THE COLOUR OF THE APC LEADER’S UNDERWEAR?’ published on Thursday 17 February 2011; states ‘…whilst we explore the several avenues for redress available to Government including under the Public Order Act ( No. 46) 1965, I shall be obliged if the IMC would treat this complaint with utmost seriousness and urgency and bring appropriate sanctions at the disposal of the Commission to bear’
SLAJ views as unfortunate the threat to use the 1965 Public Order Act which implies the obnoxious Criminal Libel component thereof. “The use of Criminal and Seditious Libel Law is outdated and backward in any civilized nation. The law itself is criminal in nature and its only justification is to stifle press freedom and freedom of expression’ says Umaru Fofana, president of SLAJ
Even though SLAJ respects the rights and dignity of public officials and other members in society, we encourage them to make use of the Independent Media Commission when they feel aggrieved against the media. The Association totally condemns the use of criminal libel or the threat thereof, against the press or any other member of the public for that matter. SLAJ maintains that the seditious and criminal libel law contained in the 1965 Public Order Act is obnoxious and must be repealed. “We urge President Ernest Bai Koroma to make real his pledge to make this law history” the SLAJ President says.
Ag.National Secretary General
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