Over Repeal of Criminal Libel Law… IMC & SLAJ at Loggerheads

By Melvin Tejan-Mansaray

There seems to be an atmosphere of ambiguity of position between the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) over the prolonged issue of the repeal of the Criminal Libel law.

In an exclusive interview, Kelvin Lewis, President of SLAJ, described his second term as ‘starting in a hectic manner.’

“We are moving forward with the fight for the Criminal Libel laws and we hope that we will be able to achieve it,” Kelvin Lewis said.

Responding to the supposition posed by this press that SLAJ and IMC seem to be at odds in their positions regarding the repeal of part five of the Criminal Libel law, which the IMC Chairman said must be carefully thought-out with regard what to replace it with.

According to Ambassador Alieu Ibrahim Kanu, IMC Chairman, his worst fear for the media in Sierra Leone is the repeal of the Criminal Libel law.

Ambassador Alieu Ibrahim Kanu added that his fear for the local media is that if part five of the 1965 Public Order Act is repealed as demanded by many quarters including SLAJ, there isn’t a better replacement.

“My worst fear for the media is that if we repeal the Public Order Act Part Five, what we are going to replace it with.

We may replace it with something that is not effective and that will not achieve its objective, that is my worst fear,” the IMC Boss said and however suggested that: “my suggestion is that we put in place something workable to replace the repealed law, the IMC is working with other major stakeholders in putting down something effective that will be accepted by all and sundry,” Amb. Kanu underscored.

On the contrary, Kelvin Lewis SLAJ President said: “I am not sure the IMC Chairman is saying that; we are part of the IMC, we have members in the IMC and the IMC is also pushing forward the repeal of the Criminal Libel law, we are all sitting together and we are all meeting and we are ensuring that we have credible alternatives which the government will accept.”

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