SLAJ Condemns Detention of Journalist Sam Lahai & Calls for Urgent Repeal of Criminal Libel Sam Lahai who was denied bail and detained.
FREETOWN, 25 July 2016: The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) strongly condemns the detention of journalist Sam Lahai by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on allegations of defamation from the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Rtd Major Sengu Koroma.Lahai, a Kenema based journalist and Assistant Secretary General of SLAJ East, traveled to Freetown on Friday 22nd July 2016 and reported at the CID to answer to the allegations.
He was denied bail and detained. It is unacceptable that even as the justice sector is undergoing salient reforms the CID continues to detain accused journalists, (and critical citizens) especially on Fridays through the weekend, without investigation. SLAJ also vehemently denounce the action of the deputy minister for merely being questioned relating to his work as a public official.
The journalist wanted to know how Mr. Sengu Koroma’s work as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs related to the running of the Kenema District Council to the extent of summoning the Kenema City Council’s Chief Administrator and the Procurement Officer to his house, and threatening them with police arrest if they failed to obey.
This is blatant display of abuse of public office and of defamation laws as contained in the Public Order Act of 1965. We find it incomprehensible that politicians continue to conspire with the police to hide behind defamation laws, denying the public the right to critically hold them to account. Their intention, we have come to realize, is not to rightly defend alleged infringement on their reputations but to just lock up journalists and ‘teach them a lesson’. This is one of the many reasons SLAJ, together with other stakeholders, is advocating for the repeal of Seditious and Criminal libel laws.
While we call for the immediate release of our colleague, SLAJ will continue to demand the deputy minister to answer to public scrutiny and we will not stop until he accounts for his action.
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla
NATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL