A team from the Media Foundation West Africa on Monday 29th May 2023, paid a courtesy call on the Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police, William Fayia Sellu at his George Street office, Police Headquarters, in Freetown.
The team was led and introduced to the IGP by Dr. Victor Massaquoi Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and Dr. Francis Sowa of the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG).
Dr. Massaquoi in his introduction, gave a synopsis of the rationale behind their visit, stating that the team is in Sierra Leone to acquaint themselves with the Police Chief and thereby ascertain relevant sources toward the attainment of press freedom and media development in the country.
Professor Amanqua Karikari, Head of the delegation digressed on the gains made toward press freedom and media development in Sierra Leone over the past five years. Noting that the repeal of the criminal libel law, the creation of public media institutions, and the general welfare of the media in the country are significant improvements to media development and press freedom.
He placed Sierra Leone ahead of many countries in the sub-region, especially when it comes to press freedom and media development. Prof. Karikari praised the efforts of the Police in creating the right framework and opportunities for the Media to thrive; citing the improved working relationship existing between the Police and the media.
He opined that the synergic relationship has yielded positive dividends, owing to the frantic efforts of both the media institutions and the leadership of the Police to keep it going. Professor Karikari appealed to the Inspector General of Police to continue with the good work for a better and sustainable relationship between the Police and the Media.
“I see the Police as an open-minded Institution as far as democracy is concerned. I, therefore, encourage IGP Sellu to continue to consolidate the gains made in terms of press freedom and media development in the country” Professor Karikari reiterated.
It also came out that the team is in Sierra Leone to sound the opinion and observation of the Inspector General in respect of press freedom and what he thinks needs to be improved on for the benefit of the general public.
Sullay Brima, one of the team members, said that they saw a significant improvement in the working relationship between the Media and the Police, which he encouraged the IGP to sustain. This, he noted, they as a regional organization, could showcase such good practices to other countries in the 15 subregional countries they operate.
The visiting team further probed into the mechanism in place to mitigate threats or attacks on female journalists while executing their mandates.
In response, the Inspector General of Police William Fayia Sellu welcomed the team to Sierra Leone and confirmed that the Police have a good and cordial working relationship with the Media, considering that they play a vital role in ensuring that Police activities are well-cascaded to the general public.
Mr. Sellu reiterated that the SLP has been working with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in its weekly press briefings and also referenced the just concluded joint SLP and Media training organized by the SLP, aimed at enhancing effective collaboration and cooperation in the attachment of our mandates.
Also discussed were the gains made by the Cyber Unit of the SLP to crack down on all cyber-related offenses. The IGP revealed that the SLP has a well-equipped cyber lab to handle cyber-related cases.
In closing, he reaffirmed his commitment to the sustainability of press freedom and media development before, during, and after the multi-tier elections.