The process mainly focused on contemporary matter arising; challenges and progress made in the media landscape.
The Executive Director for the Initiative, Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulal said the media should be an instrument of change and should be vibrant in the process of delivery its objectives. He noted that journalists should not be imprisoned for news reporting, while stating that the independent Media Commission has been there to regulate the media. He advised that journalists should be soba minded and prudent in the process of doing their job.
“I feel that the media should be vibrant as free as we enjoy it but slowly we will get there and the media will be an instrument of change.” Emmanuel Saffa added.
He furthered that the report captured the role of Independent Media Commission and the complaints they have received so far and that how IMC has helped in the promotion of a free press in the country. He furthered that the report also looked at the number of journalists that were arrested and detained in the line of duty.
He stated “and this is our position in SDI we believe that no journalist should go to prison for writing a newspaper or reporting stories.”
President, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Kelvin Lewis said media houses are being marginalized while seeking information. He said politicians should not see journalists as enemies. President Kelvin Lewis called on President Ernest Bai Koroma to push forward the expulsion of the criminal libel law
Kelvin Lewis maintained that the conditions under which journalists are working has always remained the same and that they have faced the same economic challenges, also same political challenges.
He reiterated “because free speech has been criminalized by the 1965 public order act it thus give jurisdiction to the police to then halt journalist because it a criminal offence then the police will have to come in because they deal with criminal offences so this is one of the reason we are calling for the repeal of the criminal libel law.”
He furthered that if the criminal aspect was to be removed they would only left with the IMC and that dealing with the IMC journalists would not be sent to jail.
The report stated that in 2016, state security apparatus on different occasions and for various reasons clamped down on several media institutions and journalists using the obnoxious public order act.