The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has expressed deep concern over the recent spate of online attacks and threats against journalist Thomas Josephus Dixon. The attacks, particularly from Anthony Vandy on social media, have escalated with Dixon also receiving threatening SMS and WhatsApp messages from unknown sources.

Dixon, who is the Editor of Salone Times Newspaper, is known for his outspoken socio-political commentary and his criticism of public officials. The current wave of threats and online harassment began after Dixon accused the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madam Fatima Maada Bio, of arrogance in a Facebook post.

“These continuous online attacks on journalists for merely expressing their views and opinions on public officials and national issues are unwarranted,” stated Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of SLAJ. “Democracy and good governance thrive on the right of citizens, including journalists, to freely express themselves. We are seeing a consistent pattern of fanatic and overzealous political supporters attacking journalists and political commentators whose publications they disagree with. We urge politicians and public officials to admonish their supporters to refrain from such undemocratic and ill-motivated endeavors.”

In addition to Dixon’s case, SLAJ has also received a report from its former Secretary for the Southern Region, Alie Badara, who has faced death threats and threats to burn his house, allegedly from supporters loyal to the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of the Sierra Leone Police for the Southern Region. Both Dixon and Badara have been advised to report these threats to the police, and the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) has been informed about the incidents.

SLAJ emphasizes the importance of safeguarding the safety and well-being of journalists, both online and offline. “No journalist should fear for their life or face intimidation simply for doing their job. We urge the authorities to take swift and decisive action to investigate these threats and hold those responsible to account,” added Nasralla.

Standing in solidarity with Dixon, Badara, and all journalists facing threats and harassment in Sierra Leone, SLAJ reaffirms its commitment to defending press freedom. The association is dedicated to ensuring that journalists can carry out their critical work without fear of reprisal, contributing to a more transparent and accountable society