9 September 2011


Presidential guards attack four journalists

Incident details


Mohamed Fajah Barrie, Journalist
Kemoh Sesay, Journalist
El Hadj Tarawallie, Journalist
Sulaiman Storm Koroma, Journalist

This is available in:

English Français
(MFWA/IFEX) - Four Sierra Leonean sports journalists including Mohamed Fajah Barrie, the president of the Sports Writers' Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) were on September 3, 2011 violently assaulted by two members of the presidential guards at the National Stadium in Freetown, the capital.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the presidential guards identified only as "Sullay" and "Kabbah" beat up the journalists to such an extent that Barrie, a BBC correspondent in Freetown, lost consciousness and was hospitalised. He has since been discharged from the hospital.

The incident occurred after an African Cup qualifying match between the country's senior national team and their Egyptian counterpart, where Barrie had gone to conduct a post-match interview.

"He was stopped by the guards despite the fact that he had a Press Pass, a BBC ID card and a BBC-labelled microphone (. . .) While he tried to explain that it is common practice for journalists to enter the field to do interviews, guard Sullay allegedly attempted to pick his pocket. At this stage, Kabbah rushed in and started beating Barrie," the correspondent said.

According to the correspondent, the other journalists, Kemoh Sesay, reporter for "Exclusive" newspaper and Universal Radio, Alhaji Tarawallie, from Premier Tok, and Sulaiman Storm Koroma, from Radio Democracy, were also attacked when they attempted to rescue Barrie. The three sustained serious bodily injuries.

This attack comes in the wake of Barrie's condemnation of recent threats against sports journalists in the country. Barrie stated that the attacks had succeeded in instilling fear into SWASAL's members, which is affecting their work.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leonean Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has condemned the attack on the journalists. In a statement, SLAJ President, Umaru Fofana condemned the heinous behaviour of the guards and called on President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government to bring them to book and let justice be served, in order to show respect for the rule of law in Sierra Leone.


Putting free expression issues in perspective.

Sign up to receive IFEX In Context.

Sierra Leone
More from Sierra Leone
  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Sierra Leone

    In December, the editor of the Independent Observer was arrested and charged with publishing false information. The paper had incurred multiple sanctions from the IMC over the preceding year.

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Sierra Leone

    Ranked 103 in annual global media freedom report

  • Freedom in the World 2014: Sierra Leone

    Police open fire on residents protesting development of palm oil plantation

At this point, would publish: "Home page"
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.