In Commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, SLAJ Organises Press Freedom Walk
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), with support from the European Union Sierra Leone, will mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day with a Press Freedom Walk (WPD) 2022 under the theme: ‘Protect, Promote & Expand the Space’ to reflect on the historic repeal of the criminal libel law in 2020, a milestone which set a positive dynamic and an enabling framework for the protection and promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, including press freedom, and the civic space in Sierra Leone.
SLAJ made discourse in a press release issued today.
According to SLAJ, the freedom walk platform will further be an opportunity to encourage the Government of Sierra Leone, all Political parties, the Parliament of Sierra Leone, and the Security Sector (especially the Sierra Leone Police and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces) to strengthen their commitment to respecting and protecting free speech and free media in the country.
“Since 3rd May 2022 WPD falls on a Tuesday, the freedom walk will take place on Saturday, 7th May 2022 starting at 10am prompt,” SLAJ stated.
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SLAJ further noted that, The symbolic walk will start from SLAJ Headquarters (56 Campbell Street, Freetown) to the Taylor Cummings Garden by the Cotton Tree in celebration of the repeal of the Criminal and Seditious law.
The route for the walk is from Campbell Street to Pademba Road and convergence at the Cotton Tree.
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SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, said: “Every World Press Freedom day SLAJ has been using the occasion to call for the repeal of the criminal and seditious libel law by demanding the Government of Sierra Leone to respect the right to freedom of expression of every citizen (not just journalists), free media, and international conventions related to same. Now that we have secured the repeal, we do not only need to celebrate this historic victory but to remind ourselves that challenges of free speech and free media are everyday issues we must keep fighting for. We must work together with other partners to not only protect the freedom we have achieved but to promote and expand on it.”
Similarly, the EU Ambassador in Sierra Leone, H.E Manuel Mueller, said: “Around the world, the European Union is strongly committed to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and of course freedom of expression and opinion, including press freedom, one of the hallmarks of a democracy. Vibrant media are vital to a healthy democracy, and a driver of good governance, development, human rights, and peace. The EU welcomes the historical decision to repeal the criminal libel law in Sierra Leone in 2020, a very positive step to protect and uphold freedom of expression and opinion, including press freedom. We acknowledge the instrumental role played in this process by the Government, SLAJ and other CSOs, the Parliament, and political parties. We encourage all stakeholders to continue to respect, protect and uphold this vital space”.
At the Taylor Cummings Garden, there will be short statements from stakeholders from the Government of Sierra Leone, the Parliament of Sierra Leone, the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, the four political parties in Parliament, the Security Sector (SLP and RSLAF), Civil Society Organisations, media, and the diplomatic community.
This activity will hold simultaneously on a small scale in the regional headquarter towns of Makeni (North), Bo (South), and Kenema (East).
On Sunday 8th May 2022, the celebration will be climaxed with a football match featuring Print Media Journalists vs Electronics Media Journalists at the SLFA Football Academy, Kingtom at 3:00pm.