The Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has branded the judicial branch of Government as a place of harassment, clampdown, depression, coercion and a center of strong intimidation towards the Liberian media.
According to a press release issued yesterday, November 21, 2017, quoted the Press Union of Liberia Vice President, Mr. Octavin T. Williams as saying he is concerned, this form of intimidation by the Judiciary has created trauma to the media, thus leading to censorship content restrictions.
Mr. Williams indicated that the new trademark of the Judiciary stems from the reemergence of arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists by past regimes.
According to him, for the past 12 years, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, journalists have faced arrests and pre-trial detentions as a result of summons based on empty accounts by the court.
Meanwhile, the PUL Vice President has expressed grave concern over the recent US$10 million lawsuit filed against journalist J. Cholo Brooks, Publisher of the GNN Liberia online newspaper, by Nigerian businessman Tony Lawal following publication of alleged dubious construction deals.
He therefore requested that the law takes its course to erase any form of trauma that the journalist could experience as a result of the case.
In a related development, the continuous willful violations of the Judicial Cannon by Cllr. Arthur Johnson, Judge Yusif Kabah and Stipendiary Magistrate Kennedy Peabody, Mr. Williams said, are aimed at satisfying their selfish interests and that of assumed higher-ups.
The PUL VP elaborated that Cllr. Johnson alongside Judge Kaba has been in the business of wrongful lawsuits under the canopy of “Libel with Attachment” against local journalists with the intent of executing pre-trial detentions.
He believes the action of the Liberian Judiciary has created hard code self-censorship and trauma geared towards a clampdown on critical voices and reportage.
He, meanwhile, named some individual and institutional victims who have suffered wrongful legal actions as Edward Mortee, National Chronicle newspaper, In Profile Daily, Kings FM, Voice FM, Power FM and Love FM, among others. He also named the wrongful arrest and detention of CY Kwamue of the Daily Observer and that of Acquitted Darlington Pelenah, formerly of Kings FM.
Mr. Williams, however, praised the United States Government through its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for documenting Judge Kabah, Cllr. Johnson and businessman Lawal as a result of a US$2 million lawsuit against the Nation Times Newspaper, something the report harshly criticized in the 2016 Human Rights Report on Liberia.
He added that the well-placed and circulated strategies of Censorship Content Restrictions and Intimation including Right abuses at journalists by some members of the Judiciary is currently working as a trauma to the Liberian Media and called on the full bench of the Supreme Court to take serious interest in the matter so as to put to a perpetual end such ugly practice, the press release signed by the PUL Vice President concluded.