30 October 1998


Star Radio journalists censored, subject to deportation; Ministry of Labour demands journalists, Star Radio pay fines before granting work permits

Incident details

George Bennett



(CPJ/IFEX) - In an "administrative decision" issued 8 September 1998, the
Ministry of Labour ordered Star Radio administrator Dr. Jeanette Carter and
station manager George Bennett to cease working on grounds that, as foreign
nationals, they are illegally employed. Carter and Bennett are subject to
deportation because they have refused to pay fines amounting to US$2,000.
The journalists remain officially prohibited from carrying out their
professional duties.

**Further to IFEX alerts of 28 October and 27 October 1998**
The administrative decision was signed by Dwight M. Harvey,
Director-General, Division of Employment Services, and approved by Emmanuel
A. Lomax, Acting Minister of Labour. The statement read: "based on the
admission with respect to the employment of two aliens, Ms. Jennett (sic)
Carter, an American and Mr. George Bennet (sic), a Briton, by the Star Radio
FM Station contrary to the Labour laws of the Republic, it is adjudged that
Star Radio FM Station is herebye fined US$1,000 for their illegal
employment, while the...alien employees are also fined US$500..." The fines
would be doubled if they are not paid within 24 hours and the journalists
could be expelled from the country for refusing to pay.

According to the statement, "Ms. Carter and Mr. Bennet are to cease
transacting business directly or indirectly...until they have obtained the
required Work Permits...from the Ministry of Labour." The journalists ceased
working when they received the administrative decision.

Carter and Bennett have applied for gratis work permits, upon which the
Ministry of Labour has recently added an administrative charge of US$100 in
addition to the previous fee of US$50 fee. However, the ministry maintains
that before it considers work permit applications from Carter and Bennett,
the journalists and Star Radio must pay their respective fines, and USAID
(which is a funder of Star Radio) must apply for work permits on behalf of
Carter and Bennett through the Ministry of Information.

Star Radio is managed by the Swiss-based Foundation Hirondelle, an
international NGO. Historically, employees of international NGOs obtain
employment credentials through the Ministry of Planning.

CPJ sources are concerned that paying the fines would set a dangerous
precedent for other international NGOs, which also have been affected by the
Ministry of Labour's decision.

Appeals To

H.E. Charles Taylor
President of the Republic of Liberia
Monrovia, Liberia
Fax: +231 228 026

In the United States:

H.E. Charles Taylor
President of the Republic of Liberia
c/o Embassy of Liberia
5303 Colorodo Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20011
Fax: +1 202 723 0436
e-mail: liberia-embassy@msn.com


Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 4659568

IFEX members working in this country 1

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