The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists has issued a Seven days ultimatum to the ruling SLPP government to either charge Hon. Dr. Fatmata Hassan and her five accomplices including her three children to court or face boycott from the press. The press release from SLAJ reads:
On the 26th August 2005, a verdict of involuntary manslaughter was pronounced on six people including Hon. Dr Fatmata Hassan and her three children following an inquest presided over by Magistrate Adrian Fisher acting as Coroner.
The inquest was granted by the government on the instance of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) following the death of the late journalist, Hassan Harry Yansaneh of For Di People newspaper on the 28th July 2005.
It is more than two months since the verdict was charged down by a six-man jury appointed by the government, yet nothing has been done to charge the six people to court. SLAJ has done everything in its power to get the matter to court. The Association through its solicitor has written to the president of the Republic Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah reminding him about the delay and the very need to prosecute the six suspects.
The Association has even made Representation to the Chief Justice Dr.Ade Renner Thomas and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, F.M Carew on the same, but it seems the Government wants to protect certain individuals rather than allow the law to take its course.
SLAJ views the delay as a breach of the law on the part of the government and the Association takes great exception to such violation. In view of the above, members of the Association, at an extra ordinary meeting held on Sunday 26 October 2005 made the following damands;
1. That the six suspects be charged to court without further delay
2. That uconditional bail be granted to the editor For Di People Newspaper, Paul Kamara while his appeal before the Court of Appeal is given attention.
The members further resolved that if by November 7, 2005 the above-mentioned demands are not adhered to, SLAJ would institute the following actions;
1. Journalists will cease to participate in all government activities including press conferences, etc.
2. SLAJ will revisit the news blackout earlier declared on the police and other state institutions.
3. SLAJ will withdraw its participation in discussions on the public order Act of 1965.
It is our hope that the Government will not allow us to reach to this point, that is, if the governemnt consider journalists as parters in the development of this nation.