The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) in their report for February revealed alleged physical assaults, arrest and detention of journalists in the Sierra Leone.

The MRCG report for February 2022 documented incidents of an alleged physical assault on a journalist and the arrest and detention of another; a matter between a journalist and the Sierra Leone Police; matters between a journalist and a magistrate in Kenema; a pastor versus the State, an entertainer and an ethnic group; the invitation and detention of main opposition spokesperson in relation to comments made during a radio program;; and the launch of a Journalism Welfare Fund.

MRCG noted that Alusine Antha of Eagle Africa FM 91.3 was alleged to have been physically assaulted by seven youths in the Waterloo Community on 17 February 2022.

“The journalist said he had gone to the community to cover a story dealing with a land issue when seven youths physically attacked and assaulted him. He said his mobile phone, tape recorder and money in his possession were forcefully taken away from him during the incident. He reported the matter to the Waterloo Police Division. The police had arrested the seven suspects and charged the matter to court. The matter came up on 19 February 2022 at the Waterloo Magistrate Court but owing to the absence of the suspects, it was adjourned to 14 March 2022,” MRCG reported.

They also reported that On 7 February 2022, two officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Freetown went to Bo and ‘ordered the arrest’ of Solomon Joe, a journalist of KISS 104 FM in Bo for a broadcast concerning a transaction between two businessmen in Bo.

After a statement was obtained from him in Bo, he was taken to Freetown where he spent one night in police custody. On 8 February 2022, the journalist was released on conditions that he retracted his story and apologized to the businessman.

“I am not going to retract the story because I stand by my story. My request now is for the CID to close the file against me in their record since they did not find me wanting, to avoid future arrest,” Joe stated.

MRCG further followed up on the alleged physical assault and detention of Ransford Wright, a staff (camera operator) of AYV Media Empire by Police on 13 December 2021, noting that the police said the matter was still under investigation.

Ransford told the MRCG that the police summoned him and some of his senior colleagues from the AYV Media Empire to a meeting and promised to compensate him. He said the police were yet to call him for a dialogue meeting they had promised.

The President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, said the police told him that they had suspended the officials who were involved in the incident, promised to pay for the journalist’s missing pieces of property and to officially write SLAJ when they concluded the investigation.

“In a follow up of the complaint at the Human Rights Commission for Sierra Leone (HRCSL) made by journalist, Osman Hardy Jalloh, against Magistrate Joseph Toby of Magistrate Court Number 2 in Kenema on his arrest and detention, Deputy Director, HRCSL Regional Service East, Sylvester Kallon, said that the Commission had sent a copy of the admissibility study to the complainant for him to verify, sign and sent it back to them to take the next step,” MRCG reported.

They added that the commission is waiting for the response from the complainant.

The monthly ‘Media Freedom Review’ is a publication of the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) produced from the monitoring and reporting on freedom of expression and of the press, internet freedom, digital and online rights, and safety and security of journalists in Sierra Leone.