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Sierra Leone: Legal Link represents four journalists

11 July 2019 at 21:09 | 2042 views

In fulfilment of its mandate to defend the rights of human rights defenders in Sierra Leone, the Executive Director of LEGAL LINK, Rashid Dumbuya Esq (photo) and a host of human rights activists, journalists and legal volunteers were present recently in court to witness the matter between Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq and four journalists at the Magistrate court No.2, pa Demba Road, Freetown.

Rashid Dumbuya Esq who represented the four journalists appealed to the court for a short adjournment of the matter so as to hold a strategic engagement meeting with the other side, in particular, Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq who happens to be the Complainant in the said case for a peaceful resolution of the matter.

Upon inquiry by the court regarding the appeal of the Defence Counsel, the gallant and erudite lawyers representing Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq in the trial and Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq himself indicated to the court that they were not averse to the appeal made by lawyer Rashid Dumbuya for a short date to explore the possibility of an out of court settlement of the matter.

In the opinion of the Executive Director of LEGAL LINK, *"since the matter bears and touches on members from the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and the Sierra Leone Bar Association, two sister pressure groups that are crucial to the furtherance of the rule of law, democracy and human rights in the state, it is but imperative that the matter be settled through amicable means rather than by adversarial proceedings."*

The erudite human rights lawyer further emphasized that the SLBA and SLAJ are sister institutions with similar mandates and their membership must be seen to be complementing each other rather than working against each other in the state.

It is against this backdrop that *LEGAL LINK* has proposed this strategic engagement meeting with Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq and his legal team so as to resolve the matter amicably between the two sister institutions.

It could be recalled that Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq through a private criminal summons brought 8 count charges against the four journalists alleging defamatory libel against his character and person.

On the first appearance of the four journalists Defendants in the above case, they were granted bail by the Magistrate but with stiff conditions.

Their failure however to meet the bail conditions at the time made them to spend about four nights at Pa Demba Road prisons.

But with the help of their lawyers, the bail conditions were later varied and that eventually helped them meet their bail conditions and ultimately secure their release from prisons before the expiration of the adjourned date.

The matter has today been adjourned to Thursday 18th July 2019 for further hearing; subject to the outcome of the strategic engagement meeting with both counsels.

On a bigger scale however, and given the enormous challenges facing journalists in the country coupled with the debilitating statistics and poor performance of Sierra Leone in relation to the World Press Freedom Report 2019, *LEGAL LINK* will soon be organizing a public lecture and Strategic Engagement Summit for the Press and Media houses in a bid to create synergies and look for plausible and smart solutions in the short and long term for the effective decriminalization of the laws limiting press freedom in the country.

Watch out for update on the public lecture and Strategic Engagement summit.

Source: Legal Link