By Mabinty Kamara
Claims: The European Union Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone is distributing pens and other memorabilia with hidden cameras. The targets are chiefs, police and ECSL staff.
A social media post which has been circulated on Whatsapp so many times is claiming that EU Election Observers are sharing pens with hidden cameras.
The full post has many more explanations stating that: “EU Observer team in our district gave out free pens and other memorabilia to ECO officials. These devices are questionable and must NOT be kept on them or in their homes or office. Please use your judgment and relay this alert in confidence. Their targets are ECSL, Party Executives, Media, Police Chiefs. They were in Pujehun and left for Kailahun dis morning. PLEASE DESTROY THOSE ITEMS.”
There are at least three claims in the post
i) The EOM is giving out pens and other memorabilia;
ii) That the pens have hidden cameras embedded in them;
iii) That it is targeted at police chiefs, journalists, and party Executives.
To verify these claims, SLAJ/NDI super Newsroom fact-checkers contacted the European Union Election Observation Mission in Freetown.
The Deputy Chief Observer Inta Lase (cc’d), said that the EU is not distributing pens to the general public.
“Each EU observer prior to the deployment received a few pens for his/her own use – for taking notes during the meetings. If someone asks an EU Observer for a pen, she or he of course can give away a pen. EU is not distributing pens to the general public. During meetings with electoral stakeholders, EU EOM observers are handing out the mission’s fact sheet and press releases, offering more detailed information about the mission’s mandate and work,” she said.
She added that the pens given to their officials are standard blue pens with an EU EOM logo.
The team of fact-checkers also contacted stakeholders specifically in Pujehun and other parts of the South Eastern region but they all said they are neither aware of the distribution exercise, nor can they confirm that such memorabilia have hidden cameras.
Conclusion: False, EU-EOM is not distributing pens and other memorabilia to the public.
There is no proof that EU EOM pens have hidden cameras in them.
There is no proof to show that the pens have hidden cameras and that they are targeted at journalists, Police Chiefs, and Party executives.
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 the elections.
The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.
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