President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been heralded for supporting press freedom in Liberia but the imprisonment of the Editor of Liberia’s biggest newspaper, “FrontpageAfrica”, Rodney Sieh
is by no means an addendum to press freedom in Liberia. The imprisonment of Mr Sieh is a clear manifestation of the Liberian government determination to stiffing the press with the motive to silence the media from reporting stories revealing vices in government. In solidarity with the unjustifiable imprisonment of the FrontpagAfrica’s Editor on a case in which by all legal standard other than jungle justice, would had been thrown out of any court room, we stand with FrontpageAfrica and press freedom in Liberia.
Editor Sieh imprisonment also amplifies how the Liberian justice system is a kangaroo system operating in the shadow of the executive branch of government and dispenses justice only to the powerful and the highest bidders. The failure of the Supreme Court of Liberia to categorically inform Editor Sieh when it threw out his appeal on grounds that the case was not filed properly but failed to inform the Editor that the case could be accepted if he refiled the case using the proper filing process and format required. The Supreme Court failure to give clear reason of throwing out Mr Sieh’ appeal created the impression that the nation’s final court upheld the lower court’s rulings and that he had exhausted his legal options.
According to legal practitioners, FrontpageAfrica and its Editor still have their legal option to refile their appeal to the Supreme Court by doing the proper filing this time and if done, Editor Sieh would be immediately released from prison while he awaits his appeal.
“The New Dispensation” condemns and views the imprisonment of the Editor as undemocratic and politically motivated as evident by the public display of President Sirleaf’s close confidantes and public officials open attacks on the Editor on talk shows.
It is a shock that an alleged criminal, ex-Minister Chris Toe who should had in fact be in prison for misappropriating public funds would file a law suit of libel and a court awards him his wish. This case has all the hallmarks of ‘blaming the victim’, an alleged criminal suing the press, the watchdog of the public trust, is being penalized for reporting a crime documented in a public report. The Liberian people and the press must rally to resist the war to silence the media and the undemocratic tool to erode the country’s embryonic democracy.