(Monrovia, March 25, 2018) - The Press Union of Liberia is saddened at the speed at which the Executive Mansion is fast leading the reverse of gains made on journalists’ safety and Freedom of the Press in Liberia.
In an attempt to clarify an unprovoked slam on BBC Liberia Correspondent, Jonathan Paye-Layleh during a press stakeout on Thursday, March 22, 2018 with President George M. Weah and visiting UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, the Executive Mansion has more robustly detailed the President’s comments.
President Weah's accused Paye-Layleh of undercutting his (President Weah’s) struggle for human rights in Liberia.
The Executive Mansion Sunday, March 25, 2018 Statement: “The Office of the President clarifies that as a longtime champion of human rights and an ardent advocate of peace and social justice, he only sought to remind Mr. Paye-Layleh during his response to question asked; that when he was advocating for justice and creating awareness to the gross human rights violations that were being perpetrated against the Liberian people during the fourteen years civil conflict, he (Paye-Layleh) and others were bent on undermining his efforts by depicting a positive image of the carnage".
This clarification exposes only how petit the Office of the President is headed into tearing down one of Liberia’s revered journalists in the eye of the world, the Union asserted.
Paye-Layleh’s coverage of the civil war informed the world on dire humanitarian crisis created by the upheaval during which time some of the President’s trusted aides were passionate supporters of warring factions. It is these lenses of preferred warring belligerents which has blinded the Executive Mansion from seeing the ethical and heroic works of the BBC Journalists.
Jonathan Paye-Layleh works earned him the prestigious Speaker Abott Award for the protection of parliamentary democracy, a high honor for outstanding journalism across the globe in 2008.
The Union insists that this attempt to simplify the President’s remarks only strengthened the threats contained in it and make it much easier to convey to his youthful support base.
The Press Union reiterates that the President’s comments and the latest Executive Mansion clarification endangers the life of journalist Paye-Layleh considering Weah’s popularity. Weah won Liberia’s election by more than 61 per cent of the total vote cast in the 2017 elections.
Mr. Paye-Layleh’s security is increasingly at stick after this appalling Executive Mansion Statement which gives justification to the President’s supporters, mainly young people who are passionate about his utterances and most certainly act on them. Such presidential justification is an indirect all clear for attacks on the person of the journalist in the form of motor accidents, armed robberies and food poisoning.
The PUL insists that the legitimate fear growing out of the President’s comments could force the journalist into self-censorship.
Again, the Union is urging all media institutions to take safety of their journalists as high managerial priority and conduct regular in house safety trainings going forward as official tolerance of the media in Liberia is increasingly becoming volatile.
Moreover, the PUL is urgingall journalists to remain confident in the discharge of their services to the state and its people. The Union wants journalists ignore some of the intimidating statement speared in the public by officials of government, these are intended at most times to manipulate news content and distract journalists from intelligently setting the agenda.