Sierra Leone journalist jailed for criticising head of state

Sierra Leone journalist jailed for criticising head of state

A Sierra Leonean radio journalist is currently languishing in jail after being arrested on Monday for criticising the head of state’s handling of the Ebola virus, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports on its website this week.

David Tam Baryoh, host of the popular weekly “Monologue” radio programme aired on Citizen FM, an independent radio station, was taken into police custody without a warrant, CPJ said, quoting local news reports.

He was not allowed to see his wife, news reports said.
Baryoh is believed to have been detained in connection with a November 1 show, which was taken off the air during its live broadcast.

In that show, Baryoh interviewed an opposition party spokesman who criticised Koroma and his government’s handling of the Ebola outbreak.

The journalist and the party spokesman also criticised Koroma’s intention to run for a third term in office, CPJ said.

Running for a third term or more in office has become a sensitive issue in many African countries, where two-thirds of the reigning heads of state have been in power for more than two decades.

Outspoken journalists have become the first targets of security forces and intelligence operatives who do not hesitate to detain anyone criticising the move to review the Constitution to stay illegally in power.

“Locking away journalists without charge helps nobody,” CPJ West Africa representative Peter Nkanga said in a statement posted on the media watchdog’s website.

“We call on President Ernest Bai Koroma to ensure that David Tam Baryoh is released immediately and that journalists are allowed to do their jobs freely.”

Image: Sierra Leone journalist David Tam Baryoh

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