21th November 2014 / By AllAfrica
In respect to the passing of two notable Liberian broadcast journalists, the Free Press Movement (FPM), a liberal media policy think-tank within the Press Union of Liberia has announced the suspension of its campaign to democratically remove Kamara Abdullai Kamara as President of the Journalists’ Union for ‘subjecting’ the independent media to state control and regulation.
The group said the suspension is intended to pay respect to fallen legendary broadcast Journalists Zoegar Jaynes and Setonneh Weah.
The group said its campaign to remove Mr. Kamara will subsequently resume following funeral rites of the two fallen colleagues.
“The fallen journalists were consummate professionals who subscribed to the ideals and values of the independent press, media pluralism and democratic tenets. In a more profound way we salute their legacies, which were earned not by dubiousness but via meritocracy and classic patriotism to the fundamental moralities of journalism and nationalism,” Festus Poquie – the FPM lead campaigner and spokesman said.
“This is why as crusaders for a free press void of blatant state interference, control and regulation, we honour their remarkable lives and will forever champion theirs and our collective belief of unhindered media freedom and social justice”, he added.
According to the release, the Free Press Movement (FPM) revealed that over one hundred bonafide and verifiable Full Members of the Press Union of Liberia have signed on to its popular impeachment resolution, insisting that there was no possibility whatever that its campaign to remove Mr. Kamara will cease to exist.
“This is a campaign for democracy. We are excited that Journalists who stand for democracy and good governance have and are continuing to support this redemptive effort not to subject the Liberian media to the whims and caprices of the Government and its agents as well their shameless collaborators. Those who support the idealism of the 1980 military junta and today’s anti-democracy forces, we congratulate them for their fanatical association. Posterity will vindicate our respective judgment,” Mr. Poquie indicated.
On 22 October 2014, Mr. Kamara signed what the group considers a ridiculous Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Liberia via the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism to subject media institutions in the country to government control and regulation in line with a 1980 military Decree designed for the suppression of the independent media, journalists and social justice activists.
The Free Press Movement argues that Kamara’s ‘unilateral’ action to tie the PUL and journalists to such outlandish MoU which is similarly comparable to the military junta decree, simply falls short of acceptable key principles of democratic media and broadcast regulations derived from 11 instruments, charters, protocols or declarations adopted either by international bodies (such as the UN, the AU ) or at conferences held under the auspices of international bodies (such as the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO]) or civil society bodies focusing on the media (such as Article 19, which is an international non- governmental organization [NGO] focusing on press freedom issues) to include but not limited to The Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic Press adopted in 1991.
The group also cited the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information adopted in October 1995, the African Charter on Broadcasting adopted 2001, the African Principles of Freedom of Expression Declaration adopted in 2002 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a body established under the auspices of the AU.