Media body decries 'flogging' of journalists at Liberian parliament

Monrovia, Liberia (PANA) - The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) on Thursday condemned the “cruel violence” meted out against journalists covering the upper house of the Liberian parliament, the Senate, on  January 31.

The PUL, an umbrella organization of Liberian journalists, said in a statement that the media practitioners had converged on the Senate Chamber to cover the confirmation hearing of Justice Minister-designate Charles Gibson.

Confirmation hearing of the presidential nominee Gibson has become controversial because his licence to practice law in Liberia had been suspended by the Supreme Court for ‘ethical breaches.’

The Justice Minister serves as the Attorney-General and chief prosecutor of government and must be duly qualified to appear before the Supreme Court, the nation’s final arbiter of legal matters.    

In a statement, the PUL said the “flogging of the frontline reporters is shameful, un-nationalistic and one especially aimed at undercutting the country’s gains in free expression and journalists’ protection.”

“There is absolutely no justification for violence in the new Liberia, least to mention the bungling of journalists from the floor of the Senate like common criminals, leaving some injured,” said PUL president Charles B. Coffey.

He said the Union will take the matter up with the Plenary of Liberian Senate through its President, the Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Howard-Taylor, and President Pro-Tempore, Albert Chie.

“Journalists are not whipping dogs and this disgraceful incident causes more injury to the reputation of our country, when its profile is being enriched by the successful transfer of power from democratically-elected government to another,” the Union observed.

Journalists from different media entities had gathered on the senate floor to listen to the confirmation hearing of Justice Minister- designate Gibson due to a break down in the public address (PA) system in the chamber for nearly a year.

The setup which enables journalists to record proceedings of the Senate or debates from the floor during sessions has been non-functional since March 2016.

The PA system was donated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The PUL encouraged the reporters to remain professional and follow the confirmation proceedings of the Justice Minister-designate and all other confirmation hearings to its logical conclusion.  

“The Liberian people deserve the news and any attempt to disrupt that sacred service to the state will be defeated by lovers of democracy,” the PUL pointed out.
-0- PANA PTK/AR 1Feb2018

01 february 2018 16:49:17

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