Monrovia – The Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) has condemned in the strongest terms the inhuman treatment melted out against one of its members, Christopher Walker of the FrontPageAfrica newspaper by the Liberia National Police (LNP) on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at the SKD Sports Complex.
Journalist Walker, who was duly assigned by his agency, the FrontPageAfrica and accredited by the Youth and Sports Ministry to cover the National County Sports Meet, was attacked and assaulted by officers of the LNP why carrying out his reportorial duty on the perimeter of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, where he was assigned.
Several police officers, who were roaming the perimeter of the field without accreditations, targeted the FrontPageAfrica’s Sports Desk Editor, among several journalists and fans. The officers singled him out, attacked and demanded that he be completely removed from the field, despite visibly displaying the accreditation to cover the County Meet final from the perimeter.
The police officers, who were unable to clear out fans from the perimeter of the field and stopped others from coming onto the perimeter, manhandled the reporter as they forced him to leave the perimeter without any reason for their action while leaving fans who had nothing to do with the match.
In the process of forcefully taking the reporter out, the Police wearing PSU uniform damaged Christopher Walker’s camera, and a Samsung phone. His wallet which contained U$250 and L$1000 got missing in the tussle.
The tussle left Walker’s shirt, underwear and office jacket torn.
SWAL, in a statement said, the act of the police against professional people at a sporting event, intended to highlight national peace, undermines the very purpose of the tournament and is counterproductive. The Sports Writers stressed that the officers’ action doesn’t only undermines, it also threatens the media and its work.
SWAL wants the LNP, the Youth and Sports Ministry and the PUL investigate the situation as it has the propensity to derail the relationship between the media and the police on one hand, the tournament organizers and the police on another hand.
SWAL also expressed dismay over the unprofessional manner and disrespectful attitudes security personal carried out against media workers, who received tags to cover matches, while others who are not authorized to enter the perimeters or gates are given ‘holy’ welcomes by them.
“Many at times, members of the Sporting Press are molested, intimidated and harassed by unprofessional security personnel. This has to stop!
This is completely uncalled for and needs to be stopped or organizers of sporting events would see the media backing off from their activities,” SWAL said.
SWAL called on the nation’s sporting authorities to ensure that security personnel are given trainings on their operations at game venues.
While SWAL condemns in the strongest term the continued attacks and the ill-treatment on Sports Journalist Christopher Walker, it is also forwarding a formal complaint to the Liberia National Police, the Youth and Sports Ministry and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).