On an important day like this–The World Press Freedom Day–another blessing that Sierra Leoneans should be toasting and celebrating is the unfettered freedom of the press and the free flow of information prevailing in the country under the rule of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Unlike the unhealthy and dangerous situation that obtained under previous administrations, the media is very free in Sierra Leone today.
First of all, Sierra Leoneans today enjoy the right to publish newspapers, magazines, and other printed matter without governmental restriction . In the past, intending publishers and proprietors were either denied that inalienable right enshrined in the constitution or they were subjected to draconian conditions like providing thousands of leones or bonded properties as collateral, which they could not afford . Today, under the democratic reign of President Ernest Koroma, all a prospective publisher has to do is register the newspaper with the appropriate authorities, including the Independent Media Commission ( IMC ) for a very modest fee.
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When you look at what is happening in Africa and around the world, we must count ourselves blessed for the press freedom and freedom of expression thriving in our country.
We must thank God for having a President and Government who recognize the importance of freedom of speech to nation-building and the creation of common understanding and consensus in governance .
Furthermore, unlike other countries, no media premise in Sierra Leone has been subjected to unreasonable searches or seizures .
Best of all, no journalist has ever been imprisoned by the government since President Ernest Bai Koroma came to power in 2007.
We are talking about a country that ten or more years ago was described as the most dangerous place to practice journalism .
Whatever its detractors say , the All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government is a pace-setter in Sierra Leone , not only in pursuing an agressive national development agenda ; it remains determined to protect free speech , freedom of the press and a vibrant democracy and in so doing enhance the total participation of the people in the decisions that govern their lives.
COCORIOKO therefore lauds the Government for breaking these new grounds in governance in Sierra Leone and we hope the media do not continue to abuse the privilege to inform, educate and entertain the public as government-media relations is a two-way affair.
The media should respect the trust and faith placed on them by Government to be an active player in the governance process of the country.