LIBERIA: Government Scares Working Journalists With Curfew

The Liberian Government says journalists will not be exempted in the nationwide night time curfew imposed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf but the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has taken serious exception to this and has written the Information Ministry to grant reprieve to journalists during the curfew hours.

But in its release issued Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in Monrovia, the Chief Spokesman of the Liberian Government, Information Minister Lewis Brown said only health workers, utility workers, airline's passengers and crew are exempt from the curfew.

Additionally, the release said concessionaries are not going to be affected by the curfew as long as they are within the confine of their concession areas.

Besides those exempt, the Liberian government is encouraging all to abide by the curfew, stressing that the curfew will be lifted as soon as the spread of the Ebola virus is significantly contained and the entire situation normalizes.

The government then stresses that during this curfew period it anticipates the fullest cooperation of the general public and warns that violator of the curfew will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

The latest decision by the government not to grant reprieve to journalists seems to have put journalists in a difficult position in the performance of their duties.

However, in a letter addressed to Information Minister Lewis G. Brown on Wednesday, August 20, 2014, the PUL said it wants the government to grant reprieve to journalists during the period of the curfew.

"As we all work together to serve the public, it is our hope that the Government will grant a favorable consideration to our request, while we remain open and available for further discussions on the matter," PUL Secretary General D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh told Minister Brown in the letter.

The PUL said most journalists work for extensive periods, which at times run very late at night, and very early in the morning for which it is necessary to excuse the media from the curfew.

"Unquestionably, the PUL is of the strongest conviction that the curfew, as imposed, will seriously hinder the work of the media and undercut its agility in providing public education and awareness on the Ebola virus outbreak and prevention," PUL stressed.

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