An Open Letter to His Excellency George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia

Dear President Weah:

The Press Union of Liberia refers you to your comments of Thursday, March 22, 2018 during a press stakeout with visiting Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Ms. Amina J. Mohammed in which you accused the Liberia correspondent of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Jonathan Paye-Layleh of being against you (President Weah) and your human rights work in Liberia.

Mr. President, your response grew out of a question Jonathan asked on a pertinent national subject, the implementation of recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Report which would effectively see the setting up of a War Crimes Court for Liberia to allow victims of the Liberian Civil Conflict the opportunity to confront their alleged abusers.    

Bewildered, as your answer has left us, the Press Union of Liberia will in this very public and honorable manner crave you for a meticulous step by step facts which will explain when, where, why, what and how Jonathan Paye-Layleh undercut your work for human rights in Liberia.

It will also satisfy the Liberian Journalism Community were you to include in your explanation to the world, evidence that will back claims of Jonathan depicting a positive image of the carnage of the Liberian Civil War during his coverage.  

 Mr. President, in Liberia ongoing works around the improvement of the legal operating environment of the Media in Liberia which includes building public trust in our model of media self-regulation demands the highest ethical deportment from all grades of journalists and as well seek vigorously to protect our brand of journalism from anti-democratic tendencies. In this regard, the Union has in its arsenal the proper reprimand for bridged of any ethical standard- we named and shamed, suspend and ultimately expel memberships from the Press Union of Liberia for causes such as the one you have accused Jonathan of.

For a journalist to undermine works around human rights is not only disingenuous and grossly unethical but a  charge which kills the foremost essence of contemporary journalism, service for the greater good of all of humanity.

Mr. President, your strange outburst against Paye-Layleh in the full view of the world has momentarily deflected the Liberian’s journalistic substance in a purely international newsroom setting for two leading global news networks. It will intrigue you more to know that Mr. Jonathan Paye-Layleh also reports for the Associated Press News Agency.   Please Sir, your detailed explanation will end this national standup. 

Winning the runoff Presidential Vote of 2017 by more than 61 percent clearly defines your popularity across the country and accusing one of our top journalists of being against you (Manneh) in an unexplained manner endangers the man’s life.

Mr. President, every second which passes without you providing a clarity on your accusation against the BBC Correspondent leaves us more worried for his personal safety.

The PUL insists that the legitimate fear which has grabbed the journalism community in Liberia growing out of your comments could force journalist Paye-Layleh into an undue self-censorship because of delay in the fourth coming of your explanation, Sir!!!

We will most respectfully exhaust all legal means in our quest for an explanation to the allegation against Mr. Jonathan Paye-Layleh. An explanation is needed, Sir!!!

Look forward to hearing you, Your Excellency!!! Thanks very kindly.


Hopefully yours,  


Charles B. Coffey, Jr.
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