Salone News

SLAJ Calls for Neville’s Release

1 July 2007 at 19:17 | 381 views

Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.

SLAJ Press Release.

30th June 2007.

The Vice President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, who is also the Executive Editor of Standard Times Newspaper, Philip Neville was on Thursday June 28th 2007 arrested by CID personnel of the Sierra Leone Police Force and interrogated on the contents of a front page article carried in his newspaper of June 27th 2007 about the visit of the Libyan Leader, Colonel Muammar Ghadafi to Sierra Leone and gifts donated by the Libyan Leader to the people of Sierra Leone.

Philip Neville cooperated with the CID personnel in the presence of his lawyer, Leon Jenkins-Johnston and made a statement to the police with the assurance that he would be released after making the statement.
The intervention of the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Mr. I. B. Kargbo, also caused the CID personnel to make yet another assurance that Philip Neville would be released.
To the dismay of the SLAJ President, Mr. I. B. Kargbo, police reneged on its promise as they insisted that Philip Neville be detained for further investigation.
He was later driven to the Aberdeen Police Station onboard a police vehicle.

Again, the President of SLAJ, I. B. Kargbo, had been assured that Philip Neville would be released after a press conference convened by the government at State House at midday on Friday 29th June 2007.
Both government and journalists agreed that the outcome of the press conference was positive enough to heal any differences that could have occurred as a result of the newspaper publications relating to the visit of the Libyan Head of State to Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists uses this opportunity to inform the public that Mr. Philip Neville was still held in captivity by the CID even though he had made a statement to the police and even thought SLAJ has conceded that Mr. Philip Neville should be charged so that he could defend himself in court.

Furthermore, the revised Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act 2000 which was passed by parliament less than a forth night ago now gives the IMC enough strength and power to handle matters of journalists practice in Sierra Leone and therefore SLAJ is at a loss as to why the government has ignored the Independent Media Commission in favor of utilizing questionable police methods.

SLAJ demands that Philip Neville be released from police custody without further delay for the following reasons.
First and foremost, the constitution of Sierra Leone provides that a suspect of a non-capital offence should be charged to court within seventy-two hours or be released.
Secondly, the continued detention of Philip Neville is causing tension within the community and therefore, the matter of granting him bail should be treated as a matter of urgency.

SLAJ has already cooperated with government by disseminating the government version of the Libyan controversy and therefore the need for the press and government to work amicably, especially on the eve of presidential and parliamentary elections, need not be overemphasized.

SLAJ does not intend to politicize the Philip Neville incarceration but it is also the responsibility of government to ensure that the rule of law is promoted without bias and intolerance.


Edward Marah,
SLAJ Public Affairs Secretary.

Photo: SLAJ President Ibrahim Ben Kargbo.