Letter to information minister about closure of opposition radio station
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||15 May 2008|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Letter to information minister about closure of opposition radio station, 15 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/482d42101e.html [accessed 8 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Reporters Without Borders wrote to information and communication minister Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo yesterday asking him to explain his 8 May decision to close Unity Radio 94.00 FM, a station operated by the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), and urging him to reconsider.
"With less than two months to go to local elections, we think it is inopportune to deprive an opposition party of its main means of expression, especially if there are no grounds for doing this and it is done in a coercive manner using illegal procedures," the letter said. "We had hoped the change of government in Sierra Leone would significantly improve the press freedom situation but this incident sends a very negative signal."
After SLPP secretary-general Jacob Slaj Saffa reported that his party's radio station had been closed on the information ministry's orders, the ministry issued a release saying the closure was due to the installation of an illegal antenna that disrupted the transmissions of other radio stations, and to the SLPP's failure to follow the right procedures to register Unity Radio.
But the head of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) said Unity Radio was correctly installed under his service's supervision and he has accused the government of being unable to name the radio stations whose broadcasts were being disrupted by Unity Radio. And Bernadette Cole, the chairperson of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), has said Radio Unity is legally registered with the commission. "As far as I am concerned, no radio station has been banned from broadcasting by the IMC," she said.
A former president of the Sierra Leone Journalists Association (SLAJ), Kargbo promised to improve the press freedom situation after the then opposition's victory in last September's presidential election.