"Public interest, public interest and public interest." This is the message meant not only for most of our half-baked pseudo-intellectuals and constitutional-defect driven and self-serving public officials who see themselves as masters and not servants of THE PEOPLE. I hope this sends a powerful message to our elected officials in all three branches of government who love to sue journalists.
Bravo radio talk show host Henry Costa, and to the American judge for driving sense into the heads of Liberia's Public Works Minister Gyude Moore and others bent on seeking self-glorification at the expense of the long suffering and marginalized press in Liberia.
Public officials can't sue the media for acts they are accused of committing--true or not-- as long as the information is for public consumption or in the public interest. We have had many instances of public officials in Liberia suing journalists and media institutions.
Even President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did sue Liberian journalists. And most of our officials went to school here in America and should know better. The same goes for Justices on our Supreme Court and in the National Legislature.
But this ruling by this American judge won't deter Liberian government officials because Liberian democracy is an exception to the norm or is different, and why after 170 years of so-called independence, Liberia is still Africa's first failed experiment at genuine democracy on the Continent.
Imagine how many lawsuits that could have been filed here in American courts from the just concluded American presidential elections by the various candidates from what each said of the others? It would have been a bonanza or Christmas for lawyers. That is the beauty of American democracy but we in Liberia who modeled our democracy after the American system have yet to catch on.
Thus again, what is the "public interest" as stated by the American judge? It is "in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest. Any written or oral statement made by: (1) In connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive or judicial body, or any official proceeding authorized by law; or (2) In a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; or (B) Any other expression or expressive conduct that involves petitioning the government or communicating views to members of the public in connection with an issue of public interest."
Thus the American judge/court dismissed the case of Public Works Minister Gyude Moore against radio talk show host Henry Costa. However Minister Moore is entitled to an appeal, even all the way to the US Supreme Court. Is the Supreme Court of Liberia listening, as well as other courts and judges in Liberia, and law professors at the University of Liberia Arthur Grimes School Of Law? Good that Moore sued in America and not in Liberia where he probably would have "won" his case.
Jerry Wehtee Wion,
Journalist and Political Commentator
Washington, DC, USA