23 March 2011

Mayor threatens CEMESP with libel suit over free expression report

A mayor who was named and shamed in a free expression report by the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) is threatening to sue the organisation for libel.

CEMESP's annual report, "Strengthening Freedom to Further Democracy in Liberia: Attacks on Freedom of Expression 2010", released last week, singled out Monrovia Mayor Mary Broh as the only high government official that unleashed multiple attacks on journalists in 2010.

CEMESP's report noted that last April, Broh ordered the arrest and flogging of radio reporter Nimpson Todd, less than two weeks after she had publicly disgraced him.

Last week, the Liberian Women Democracy Radio quoted Broh as saying that she will file a libel lawsuit against CEMESP for mentioning her name in the report.

"Strengthening Freedom" catalogues the threats, brutality and censorship journalists and others faced last year, often at the hands of government officials.

Although 2010 was marked with the long-awaited freedom of information act, making Liberia the first West African country with an FOI law, the victory was coupled with attacks on the free exchange of news and information, says the report.

Often the violations were at the hands of the authorities, or political leaders intending to run in the upcoming elections - a dangerous precedent considering this is an election year, says CEMESP.

"We fear that this worsening trend, on the eve of the elections, projects the evils that are in store for journalists" in 2011, says CEMESP.

Click here to access "Strengthening Freedom", as well as CEMESP's "Access to Information Research and Monitoring in Liberia" report.

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