Sierra Leone’s former Prime Minister Sir Albert Margai in 1965 introduced in parliament the Public Order Act to serve as a tool to silence critics and members of the opposition. The Act since it enactment has been divided into two aspect the Civil and Criminalization which many journalists have been a bone of contention and have been calling for it decriminalization.
Mr. Swaray added that President Bio’s government is determined to repeal the 1965 criminal libel, stating that media house owner across the country should ensure that they meet the minimum wage payment for their staff to ensure professional journalism.
“Other governments before us come to power on the back of repealing the criminal libel, in the end it was all motion no movement” he added.
“We are here President Bio has shouted it on rooftops and incidentally he has been the most castigated president in his long road to presidency but still he believe in the contribution of the media”
He assured that they are in it together, noting that the strategy needs to change to cooperation and collaboration.
He disclosed that government will continue to reveal the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist subvention and the process of land to erect of construct a secretariat.
Chairman of the Independent Media Commission George Khoryama there are serious problem of compliance in the payment of correct salaries for journalists despite there has been a lot of growth across the media landscape in Sierra Leone.
The media in Sierra Leone which is made up of 200 registered newspapers, 165 registered community, commercial and religious radio broadcaster and 29 televisions stations and DTH service according to Mr. Khoryama is at crossroads with the pending repeal of part V of the criminal libel law which criminalizes libel where not even truth is sufficient as a defense.
The repeal of the criminal libel law according to journalists the will open up the space for the growth of the media in the country. Amadu Lamarana Bah, the President of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union assured the Minister about their commitment and supports for the repealing of the law.
He urged parliament to support the president for repealing of the law, adding that it high time people stop seeing journalists as a criminal.
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone has year in year out called for the repeal of the law in its annual reports. The country’s media is arguing that the country’s apparent poor rankings in global press freedom indexes could be chiefly among other things the criminal libel laws in our laws books. Meanwhile, the Information Minister encouraged media houses across the country to ensure they meet the minimum wage payment for their staff to ensure professional journalism.
The repeal process is at a crucial stage that needs the resolve of the country’s laws maker to do the needful.
A lot has been said about the Public Order Act and many journalists believe it is important for them for the law to be decriminalized.