Sierra Leone’s former president to face the ICC soon

By Mabinty M. Kamara


Claim: Former President Ernest Koroma to face the ICC soon, citing New York Times

Verdict: False and manipulated content


The claims in the posts are that:

  1. i)                  The former President has been invited by the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  2. ii)                The ICC has collected photographs, fingerprints and DNA of the former president.

To verify these claims, SLAJ/NDI super Newsroom fact checkers contacted the Communications person of the former president, Ishmael who refuted the claims.

The team of fact-checkers also contacted the ICC for verification through their verified Facebook page (7) Facebook but could not find any such posts. We also search on the New York Times official website The New York Times – Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos (nytimes.com) but could not find such a report.

Conclusion: The Newspaper was manipulated and the photo of the former president placed therein.

Note:  This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during and after the elections.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!



THE CYBER LAW & FREE EXPRESSION IN SALONE: The Need to Protect the Civic Space

By: Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President, SLAJ
The young lawyer arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police for expressing her views on X, bringing the legitimacy of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to question, was released on bail on Wednesday this week after spending a night in police detention.
Lawyer Joy Precious Bayoh’s expression directly responded to an X post by President Bio about his meeting with the ‘President and Executive of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA)’ after a contentious election last month and a contended outcome. Joy, who was apparently unhappy about that meeting, said in her X post that the legitimacy of President Bio is as questionable as that of the SLBA President and Executive he received at State House in a recent courtesy call.
According to accounts by lawyers in the same legal chamber with Joy, a truckload of armed police personnel and about five plain clothes CID officials first stormed her office with orders to arrest her but she was not there at the time. The next day her colleagues escorted her to the CID, and she was detained after a statement was obtained from her. CID officials say she is being investigated for “incitement and other cyber-related offences”.
Lawyer Joy’s case continues to justify our initial fears about the Cyber Security and Crime law. Those fears were expressed and communicated officially in our position paper. We feared and predicted that law enforcement agencies would use the cyber law to clamp down on critical and dissenting voices. We were suspicious about its legislation, especially a year after the landmark repeal of the criminal libel law.
While we recognized the need for a law that would help tackle online crimes, we also raised the red flag on sections that we believed would infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens, especially freedom of expression and of the press, as well as privacy.
Those fears are now justified as the police continue to apply the cyber security law in the same fashion they did with the criminal libel law for half a century. We know the cyber law will be further abused in the name of security and on the interesting allegation of cyber-stalking and harassment of highly-placed people and the powers that be.
Under our Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) platform, we have monitored and documented a series of Cybersecurity cases since 2021; from the arrest and detention of Ahmed Doyle Kamara, popularly known as Tazmo Sliz, a musician and influencer in Makeni for cyberbullying, to a journalist of Okentukou Radio in Kamakwie for sharing false information. (See link to MRCG press freedom reports: https://mrcgonline.org/…/278-eleventh-edition-of-press…).
We are concerned that this trend has a chilling effect on the civic space, and we cannot wait for another half a century or more to fix this law. We may not agree with what people say, but we must protect their right to freedom of expression.
Journalism and democracy thrive in a space where people can express themselves freely and it is our place as journalists to protect this right and freedom because our profession depends on it.
We acknowledge that this Government has continued to demonstrate the political will for media development since they were first elected in 2018. Through our constructive engagement and collaborative approach, we have achieved big gains in media development: the repeal of the criminal libel law, the annual subventions to SLAJ, the national blueprint for media development, the national fund for public interest media, and improved relationship with the security sector.
However, these gains will be meaningless if we cannot guarantee people’s fundamental right to free expression. The civic space is where we all meet and interact: journalists, professionals, public officials, politicians, the people, CSOs, etc. All the more reason we must continue to expand its boundaries and guarantee our freedom, safety, and security within the space.

SLAJ Secretary General Speaks About the Importance of Human Rights Perspective in Journalism


On Thursday, June 20, 2024, Alhaji Manika Kamara, Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), delivered a statement at a training workshop focused on incorporating a human rights-based approach into news reporting. The event, organized by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), took place at the Peace Museum.

Manika expressed SLAJ’s enthusiasm for participating in professional training sessions, emphasizing the value of such programs in enhancing the skills and capacities of journalists, particularly in specialized fields like human rights reporting. He highlighted the workshop’s goal to deepen journalists’ understanding of integrating human rights principles such as dignity, equality, and respect into their reporting.

According to Manika, this approach ensures that news stories not only inform but also empower audiences, bringing attention to the situations and experiences of marginalized communities.

The Secretary-General underscored the importance of a human rights perspective in journalism, noting that it equips journalists to tell stories that reflect diverse voices while advocating for justice and accountability, especially for the voiceless and powerless. He stressed the necessity for journalists to be knowledgeable about local and international human rights laws, treaties, and conventions to enhance their reporting.

Manika encouraged active participation, urging attendees to ask questions and critically consider the impact of their work. He expressed gratitude to HRCSL for organizing the training and expressed hope for future collaborations to further strengthen journalists’ knowledge and skills.

Manika ended by calling on journalists to make the most of the learning opportunity, aiming to contribute to a more informed and just society.


SLPP and APC Unite to Combat Hate Speech

By Mabinty M. Kamara

Claim: The SLPP and APC have united to denounce hate speech and political violence.

Verdict: TRUE

Methodology:  A press statement dated June 3, 2024, confirms the resolve of the two main political parties in Sierra Leone to fight against hate speech.

The SLAJ/NDI SuperNews fact-checkers contacted officials from both political parties. These officials confirmed the authenticity of the agreement as stated in the press release dated June 3, 2024, which was signed by representatives from both parties.

Conclusion: In the joint statement, both parties committed to promoting national unity, upholding free speech with responsibility, denouncing hate speech, and fostering respectful political discourse.

This fact check is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on combating disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada.

#U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!


RSLAF Head of Media Refutes False Criticism of President Bio

By Mabinty M. Kamara

Claim: Lieutenant Colonel Issa Bangura criticizes President Julius Maada Bio in an interview on Radio Democracy’s Good Morning Salone Programme, stating why former President Koroma is more popular and successful than President Bio. This claim was spread via a widely circulated video on social media (WhatsApp).

Verdict: FALSE

Methodology: The SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom fact-checkers used both electronic and physical methods to verify the video. They contacted PRO Lieutenant Colonel Issa Bangura and interviewer Musa S. Kamara for verification. Bangura refuted the statements attributed to him, stating that he never made such comments. He confirmed that while he has appeared on the show to discuss RSLAF and state security issues, the video in question is fake and manipulated. Bangura reported the matter to the Sierra Leone Police, emphasizing that such actions constitute a crime.

Musa S. Kamara corroborated Bangura’s statement, confirming that the video is manipulated. He noted that the original interview took place on November 27 last year, following a foiled coup in Sierra Leone. Digital video fact-checking tools, including Truepic, Invid, and TinEye, confirmed the video’s manipulation.

Original Interview: https://www.facebook.com/share/v/AaoZcZWyYbBG4wtc/?mibextid=oFDknk

Conclusion: The video has been manipulated and widely shared.

Note: A deepfake is a machine-generated image or video that alters faces, bodies, or voices, making people appear to do or say things they never did. Items can also be added to videos to distort the truth.

This fact-check is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on combating disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada.

#U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!