The Ambassador of the European Union to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller has assured that the EU will continue to stand by the media in Sierra Leone to offer opportunities that can further strengthen its capacity, and to support media initiatives to protect media freedom and pluralism.
Ambassador Muller was speaking during the launch of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Media Manifesto 2023, titled: ‘The Media We Want’ in Freetown, where he said as the work of the Independent Media Commission is paramount in regulating the media landscape and ensuring all registered mass media upheld the highest standards of ethics, integrity and professionalism, the EU is pleased to be able, through International IDEA, to provide equipment and institutional capacity support for the Commission to capably implement its renewed and strengthened mandate, as enshrined in the IMC Act of 2020.
Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, Dr. Victor Massaquoi said: “The media manifesto is part of the new political logic and reflects media development, media freedom and media regulation that is not restrictive.”
The development and launch of the SLAJ Media Manifesto 2023 were made possible through the Sierra Leone Democracy Strengthening Programme, funded by the European Union, and implemented by International IDEA.
International IDEA is an intergovernmental organisation that advances democracy worldwide, as a universal human aspiration and an enabler of sustainable development, through support to the building, strengthening, and safeguarding of democratic political institutions and processes at all levels.
The ‘Media We Want’ manifesto is a catalogue of realistic, achievable and time-bound actions and strategies to advance media freedom, media professionalism, viability, gender equality and inclusivity, safety and security of journalists and media literacy in Sierra Leone.
The media manifesto builds on the collective progress Sierra Leone has made to enhance media freedom and media viability over the years – including the historic repeal of Part 5 of the Public Order Act 1965 and the first media viability and investment conference in April 2021 – and to seek commitment for concrete action from political leaders and other stakeholders to prioritise media freedom, media development and media viability in the coming years.
Speaking on behalf of International IDEA, the Head of the Sierra Leone Country Programme, Dr. Idrissa Mamoud Tarawallie said: “The mission of International IDEA is to promote and strengthen the values and ethos of democracy and democratic governance globally. The media is a partner in achieving this mission, because public interest media is critical for democratic strengthening as it provides platform for dialogue, debate and holding elected leaders to account”.
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, speaking on the importance of the media manifesto to the media profession in Sierra Leone said: “The manifesto is to consolidate the significant gains we have made in the last five years, and represents our collective vision and aspiration as journalists for the media we want in the next years.
“We want the buy-in of politicians and hope that this document will serve as the framework for all future interventions in the media sector in Sierra Leone”.