Liberia: Press Union Condemns Raid on FPA; Use of Civil Lawsuits to Trample Media
Monrovia – The Press Union of Liberia is shock about Monday’s raid of the Offices of FrontPage Africa (FPA) on the orders of authorities of a Monrovia Civil Law Court.
Early Monday, sheriffs from the Court in a move to enforce a writ of summon against the FPA arrested all its employees including cleaners and an expediter.
The Union views the arrest which handcuffed the normal operations of the paper as an embarrassing posture of a court charged with the responsibility of maintaining the peace through the dispensation of justice.
It is unacceptable that journalists and media workers are beginning to be violated under the pretexts of civil lawsuits when the underlining motives are rooted in intolerance for dissent and freedom of the independent press, the Union stresses.
The Press Union sees the latest incident as a creeping return of the old tactics of using private citizens to intimidate and harass journalists in Liberia into self-censorship. To file a civil suit with an attachment is a replay of ploys of the immediate past which imprisoned journalists on dreadful defamation damages.
The PUL said merits of the civil suit which disrupted works of the FPA Monday, April 9, 2018 cannot past the minimum reasoning to warrant the sort of power exercised except being accompanied by deep seated prejudice of faceless powers.
For employees of a newspaper to be seized like common criminals in the absence of a writ of execution and the use of a criminal attachment (legal instrument) in a democracy is a shame, the Union insists.
Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia is most respectfully asking Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor to mandate an end to deformation suits with attachment because it punishes before listening to the accused.
Liberia signed the Table Mountain Declaration on 21, July 2012 vowing to repeal criminal defamation or ‘insult’ laws. Almost six years on, journalists are being jailed and persecuted by meanly political leaders of the country using criminal defamation as means of silencing critical voices.