Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
1st Floor, 56 Campbell Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone P.M.B. 724,
President: +232 76 470288 / +232 30 470288, Secretary-General: +232 76 814217
Date: Monday, 26th June 2023
Update on Media Coverage of the June 24th General Elections
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) commends all media houses and journalists deployed to cover the June 24 general elections across the country for doing so professionally and impartially.
The conduct of journalists and media houses on polling day and so far, according to our monitoring of the Western Area Urban and Rural, and reports from our regional offices, is encouraging. The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) Media Situation Room Report also highlighted and commended the performance of the legacy media on polling day.
However, we have received complaint from the leadership of the Independent Radio Network (IRN) about a broadcast by Justice Radio FM accusing the platform of holding secret meetings with the main Opposition presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara to ensure that the platform announces results from polling stations that are favourable to the candidate and his party. The radio station further called on the Sierra Leone Police to stop the platform from announcing provincial results from polling stations and urged the public to stop listening to the platform.
Safety and Security
There are no reported incidents of threats or attacks/assaults against journalists or media houses on polling day across the country.
However, a group of journalists (including foreign journalists) were trapped at the All People’s Congress headquarters at Old Railway Line, Brookfields, Freetown, yesterday (Sunday 25th June 2023) evening while covering the party’s press conference during which the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) fired tear gas to disperse the crowd of supporters that had gathered in and around the building.
After receiving distress calls from the journalists and their media houses, SLAJ contacted the SLP and requested their intervention to get our colleagues out of the building. The SLP Regional Commander, Freetown West, Sylvester Koroma, ensured the journalists were escorted out of the building unhurt. Nevertheless, we received a complaint from one of the journalists, Ibrahim
Alusine Kamara, Managing Editor, Salone Compass newspaper, alleging that his vehicle, which he used to drive to the APC office for the press conference, was vandalized by security officials.
Social media continues to be a concern for the spread of disinformation, fake news, hate speech and political propaganda, especially during the elections. We condemn the rampant spread of dis/misinformation of elections results from sources that do not have the authority to do so, and we reiterate that only the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone has that constitutional authority.
Meanwhile, SLAJ recognises the efforts by the IRN platform of radio stations, radio stations outside the IRN platform, TV stations, and newspapers in covering the elections in a professional and impartial way amid difficult circumstances.
We also recognize the great work by our team of Fact-checkers working on the UNDP I-Verify platform and the NDI SuperNewsRoom for timely fact-checking of problematic content around the elections and helping the public to have access to accurate and factual information.
We urge journalists to continue to perform their roles responsibly, professionally and impartially.
Alhaji Manika Kamara