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WAJA statement on recent developments in Sierra Leone


**Updates IFEX alerts of 21 January, 20 January, 12 January and 11 January

(WAJA/IFEX) - The following is a WAJA press release:

We have been following recent events in Sierra Leone and are outraged and
shocked by the senseless and indiscriminate attacks and persecution of both
foreign and local journalists in Sierra Leone. We are particularly concerned
about the horrendous casualties suffered by our colleagues in Sierra Leone
during the battle for control of Freetown, the national capital, between the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, Armed Forces Ruling Council (ARFC)
fighters and ECOMOG.

We condemn in no uncertain terms the abduction of journalists by the rebels,
the killing of journalists and the destruction of media houses and
equipment.WAJA has had occasion in the past to condemn the anti-media
measures of the Tejan Kabbah regime, particularly the death sentence passed
against some journalists.

Whilst urging all parties in the crisis in Sierra Leone to lay down arms and
bring peace to the long-suffering people of Sierra Leone, we equally appeal
to them to respect the dignity and right of journalists, irrespective of
their perceived political leanings, to do their work.

ties of the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists (ZUJ), an IFJ member, on these issues and Farhana Ismail, a
member of the IFJ Executive Committee has raised this matter in Southern
Africa. The IFJ will continue to address the issue internationally.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the President:
  • expressing concern that the military have been involved in detaining
    journalists in matters relating to press coverage
  • expressing the view that that their human rights in relation to their
    detention and their right to freedom of expression have been abused
  • expressing particular worry that agents of the state do not recognise
    jurisdiction of Zimbabwe's High Court, and that they find it acceptable to
    detain people incommunicado
  • urging him to ensure that all charges against these journalists are
    dropped and to guarantee that journalists in Zimbabwe are free to inform the

    Appeals To

    President Robert Mugabe
    Office of the President
    Causeway, Harare
    Fax: +263 4 708 557

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

    For further information, contact Cailin Mackenzie at the IFJ, Rue Royale,
    266, B-1210 Brussels, Belgium , tel: +322 223 2265 or +322 219 7780, fax:
    +322 219 2976, e-mail: [email protected], Internet:

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