Liberian Press Union Denounces Intimidation of Journalists in Monrovia

- Statement from the Press Union of Liberia (PUL)-

The Press Union of Liberia is increasingly troubled by what appears to be the re-emergence of the growing wave of attacks against journalists in the country.

The Union’s concern is in the wake of two separate attacks against journalists by a United Nations security personnel and some traffic officers of the Liberian National Police.

Journalists Janet Johnson of Radio Veritas, Alponso Toweh of the Reuters News Agency and Gibson Jerue of the Analyst Newspaper were reportedly assaulted by a security personnel of the United Nations Mission in Liberia while attending the regular weekly press briefing of UNMIL on Wednesday, January 7, 2004.

The Union is requesting the office of the United Nations Special Representative to Liberia, Jacques Klein to immediately investigate the assault against the journalists by the UNMIL security personnel.

The PUL describes the action of the UNMIL security personnel assigned to Ambassador Klein as intolerable and hopes that it will not be repeated.

The Union also says the reported assault on the journalists is counterproductive to a peaceful co-existence between the media and the UN Mission in Liberia.

The PUL has gathered that this bodyguard is in the habit of bullying journalists who frequent the UNMIL offices to perform their duty.

The Union is also concerned about a complaint by one of its members - against traffic officers of the Liberian National Police who on Tuesday, January 6, 2004 seized his PUL press accreditation card while on his reportorial assignment.

Freelance reporter James Boeh said the ID card was forcibly taken away from him while covering a scene of a motor accident in the central Monrovia area. Journalist Boeh said a senior traffic officer told him that it is illegal to cover a scene of a motor accident without authorization from the police.

PUL Secretary-General Winston Monboe later intervened to recover the seized identification card of the journalist at the National Police Headquarters. The Union says this is unhealthy for media police relations during the country’s transition from war to peace.


Tom Winston Monboe