Salone News

SLAJ appeals for professionalism

31 August 2007 at 11:40 | 319 views

Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ)
2nd Floor, 31 Garrison Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
P.M.B. 724
E-mail: slaj_salone@yahoo.com

President: Tel: 228693 / +232 76 656037
Secretary General: Tel: +232 30 205357

PRESS RELEASE

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is gravely disturbed by statements that tend to cast aspersion on its membership with regards the covering and reporting of the August 11, 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections now at their final and decisive stage of a run-off.

It must be emphasised that SLAJ, a responsible and non-partisan organisation, has been a major stakeholder in the electoral process, advocating a free, transparent and peaceful election. To this end, SLAJ deployed its members to observe the August 11 voting and counting process across the country. After polling, SLAJ issued a preliminary statement on its findings, commending NEC, the Sierra Leone Police, PPRC, Political Parties and all those that contributed to a very successful election.

It is however unfortunate that as we approach the final phase of the electioneering process, some members of the public seem to blanket SLAJ in condemning radio stations or newspaper houses broadcasting or publishing invectives or inflammatory statements detrimental to a peaceful conduct of the September 8 run-off.

SLAJ takes strong exception to these blanket statements and wishes to make it abundantly clear that it does not take direct responsibility in the event a media house steps beyond its professional limits. Every journalist is guided by a code of ethics and must therefore own up to any violation of that code.

It is for this reason that in its preliminary statement following the August 11 polls, SLAJ disassociated itself from the inciting statements aired in certain radio stations regarding the elections. Our position on this matter should now be clear to any member of the public that SLAJ is not and would not be a party to disrupt the presidential run-off.

In this regard, SLAJ wishes to admonish its members to take cognisance of the fragile security situation in the country and refrain from broadcasting or publishing statements that could only serve the interest of unpatriotic elements or sow the seed of discord in our society.

SLAJ is particularly concerned about reports in the foreign media, some of which are manipulated to cause tension as we head for a crucial run-off of the presidential election. While we appreciate their effort to inform the wider world about events here in Sierra Leone, we are equally concerned about the impact such reports would have on the local audience.

We further wish to remind the leaders of the two political parties, SLPP and APC, about the Code they signed with the PPRC and their responsibility to ensure that the September 8 election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. We also implore them to restrain their supporters from acts of violence as they would be held responsible for any breach of the peace.

Once more, SLAJ is a neutral body that does take sides and therefore does not deserve blame for the conduct of media houses that are affiliated with political parties.

Thank you.

Ibrahim Karim-Sei (Secretary General)
Aug 30, 2007

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