The out-gone Executive of the SLPPG on Friday 15th July handed over to their newly elected colleagues at a short ceremony at the House of Parliament at Tower Hill, Freetown.Out-gone President, Elias Bangura, made THREE important appeals:
- That media houses kindly assign their best and critical reporters to cover Parliament.
- That Parliament allocates an office space to the SLPPG as 'it happens in ALL Parliaments in the world'.
- That the SLPPG makes itself worthy of the name, in terms of everything.
He said; "Compromising your work and your integrity to whoever is completely out of place in the tenets of the Fourth Estate - as we are the last man standing, the final hope of the people. When governments fail, they're changed at the polls, BUT when the Media fails - oh God help that nation! So, let us all remain true to our calling and do our work by TELLING IT AS IT IS."
Giving the keynote address SLAJ Secretary General, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, urged the Gallery to be non-partisan and to practice responsibly. Nasralla said: "Check your facts, cross check your facts, if possible re-check your facts. If at any point you are not sure or you are in doubt, please don't publish or broadcast. The story can wait until you are pretty sure, and by that time you would have had other interesting angles to it."
The SLAJ Sec Gen revealed that the Association is vigorously pursuing, together with other stakeholders, the repeal of Seditious and Criminal libel laws as contained in the Public Order Act of 1965, "which hang over the heads of journalists like the Sword of Damocles".
He said SLAJ is encouraged and motivated by the commitment now being shown by the APC Government in that regard."We reiterate that journalists (and by extension, citizens) should not be put behind bars for merely expressing their opinions about public officials irrespective of whether such opinions will bring the officials into disrepute or not," said Nasralla.
However, Nasralla pointed out that SLAJ is correspondingly trying to put its house in order to raise the bar of the noble profession."We are currently reviewing the SLAJ Code of Ethics and strengthening the mandate of the Disciplinary Committee in a genuine effort at self-regulation. Very soon we'll embark on a nationwide popularization of the Code of Ethics and we'll require our membership to strictly abide by its guidelines," stressed Nasralla. The new President of the SLPPG is Hassan Y. Koroma.