An efficient and useful press is vital in maintaining good governance and a healthy democracy in Liberia. Henceforth, Globe Afrique stands with Roots FM and strongly condemns the repeated and spineless attacks on the network. This cowardly act of intimidation is purely an act of censorship of Henry Costa – owner of the station. While there is no visible or credible evidence that the administration of President Weah is behind the attack – a little deductive reasoning shows that when one of the most vocal critics of President Weah gets attacked – there will be only one logical suspect.
Data compiled by Globe Afrique’s Research Desk shows 2018 was one of the most brutal year for journalists, with at least 34 journalists confirmed murdered around the world – an 89 percent jump over the previous year. Data shows there are over 251 journalists in prisons around the world – a record high. In Liberia, Rodney Sieh, editor-in-chief and publisher of FrontPage Africa has been consistently harassed by successive administrations.
Henry Costa, the colorful, no-holds-bar fire-breathing political commentator of Roots FM has been repeatedly harassed, threatened and besieged by President Weah’s administration. Costa is no stranger to harassment by the Government of Liberia.
In 2014, Costa was arrested on trumped-up charges by Fumba Sirleaf – the son of President Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf who also headed the National Security Agency. In 2015, Costa was again detained on another set of bogus charges by the same Fumba Sirleaf – a clear violation of Costa’s human rights. Fumba should be aware that his human rights records as National Security Director in Liberia are under scrutiny by the international community – especially the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service.
Around Africa, threats against journalists have increased and in one incident deadly.
On January 16, 2019, two assassins on a motorbike fired three bullets at close range and killed investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ugandan authorities engaged in the unlawful detention of three BBC journalists who were actively involved in investigating counterfeit drugs on the market in Uganda.
In February 2019, Paul Chouta, a cameroonian reporter for an online magazine was attacked with a knife by three hoodlums – the editor-in-chief of the magazine stated he believes supporters of the current regime were behind the attack.
In Liberia, President Weah openly accused BBC’s Liberia correspondent Mr. Jonathan Paye Layleh of being “against him.” Such an idiom or expression that someone is against President Weah falls within the purview of “enemies of the state.” A phrase with far-reaching lethal implications.
On December 17, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill stated, Rodney Sieh would go to jail for publishing a story which showed President Weah’s administration was running a massive corruption scheme where senior government officials were linked to bribes, fiscal mismanagement, bribery, and blatant waste.
On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, The President of Liberia stated, his government was committed to sustaining peace in Liberia. He went on to say that freedom of speech and freedom of the press were tantamount to lasting peace in his country. Still, Liberians have come to realize that President Weah’s action continues to contradict his words – so, his words have become meaningless to the average citizen.
Roots FM has established a GoFundMe page which is expected to raise $15k to repair the station and purchase new equipment. You can pledge, anonymously if you desire, by clicking the following link:
Again, while there is no visible or credible evidence that the administration of President Weah is behind the attack – a little deductive reasoning will show that when one of the most vocal critics of the administration gets attacked – there can only be one logical suspect.