By Antoinette Sendolo
Police Director Chris Massaquoi has stressed the need for proper collaboration, coordination and Cooperation with the media and the police in the country.
He spoke yesterday during a one-day symposium on the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists. The symposium was held under the theme: Breaking the Culture of Impunity and Creating a Safe Climate for Journalists in Liberia. It was held by the Press Union of Liberia, UNESCO and Center for media studies & Peace Building at the YMCA in Monrovia.
Director Massaquoi, who served as one of the panelists, said it is important for the media and the police to have a cordial relationship in order to maintain the peace Liberia now enjoys.
According to Director Massaquoi the police is not against the works of the media but noted that some people in the media misunderstand the works of the police and that’s why they have the wrong impression about the police.
He noted that journalists are not above the laws and as such they should not go across what he referred to as the red line when carrying on their reportorial duties because it is difficult to distinguish who journalists are from others during crisis time.
At the same time the Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, Philip Wesseh , who also served as a panelist, has called on the government of Liberia to reopen the National Chronicle Newspaper something which he described as an attack on the Media.
The Inquirer boss said the manner in which the Chronicle was closed was unfortunate noting that going to arrest a journalist as though they were going to arrest an armed “rebel leader,” something he said was unacceptable.
He pointed out that one of the things this country can boast of now is the level of press freedom and freedom of speech, and therefore, the continued closure of the newspaper does not speak well about these freedoms.
He further noted that in order to succeed in breaking the culture of impunity the media needs to prioritize follow-up on the reportage.
Mr. Wesseh added that journalists should report and follow up on stories of attacks on the media to help stop impunity and create a safe environment for journalists in the country.
The Inquirer Managing Editor then called on the Press Union of Liberia to be proactive and not always wait for complaints before reacting.
The other panelist, the Chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Gladys Johnson, said the issue of impunity should be everybody’s business noting that about 90 percent of the perpetrators of crimes go unpunished.
She said journalists should report factual information that the public can rely on rather than misleading the public.
Madam Gladys Johnson challenged the Police Director to prevail on his men to be peacemakers noting that not every incident warrants an arrest or detention.
Representative Richmond Anderson and Human Rights Lawyer, TiawonSayeGongloe made remarks at the end of the symposium.