The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says it stands in solidarity with veteran broadcast journalist T-Max Jlateh and other Liberian journalists whose voices are critical to ensuring that Liberia’s nascent democracy continues to thrive.
The Association in a press release issued on April 10, 2019, expressed grave concern about the alleged assassination threat on the lives of these journalists and says if true, the goal of the masterminds is to stifle the independent media and cow them into submission. Recently, Mr. Jlateh, who hosts the popular 50/50 Talk Show on Sky FM radio station in Monrovia, alleged there are plans by unknown individuals linked to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to assassinate him and other veteran journalists in the country.
Journalist Jlateh in public broadcast and official communications alerted ALJA, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), and other international and local Liberian organizations about the reported plan to eliminate him, Rodney Sieh of the Independent Frontpage Newspaper, Philip Wesseh of the Inquirer Newspaper, Philibert Brown of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, and talk show host, Henry Costa of Roots FM.
He alleged that his source informed him of two meetings that were convened a week ago by the alleged plotters in Monrovia to discuss their assassination. He claimed they that are been targeted for espousing views the plotters consider critical of the Liberian government. The US based Liberian Journalist organization says criticisms of the government and its policies is an important component of any democratic society and noted that the views expressed and news stories reported by the independent media are not their creation, but they are reflections of current happenings in the country.
ALJA warned the CDC and the Liberian government against the heightened sensitivity and intolerance against criticisms currently obtaining in the country; and says such condition does not augur well for the country’s democracy and political co-existence. ALJA stressed that a vibrant and independent media is crucial to the survival to Liberia’s fledgling democracy; and urged those who feel aggrieved by the reporting of journalists to seek legal redress as opposed to resorting to unconstitutional actions. ALJA is also, calling on the Liberian media to remain ethical in the conduct of their professional responsibilities.
Meanwhile, ALJA says it appreciates the fact that the Liberian government considers Journalist Jlateh’s allegations serious and credible enough to warrant an investigation, but urged the government to ensure that the probe is impartial, transparent and speedy. The Association says any attempt by the government to coerce T-Max in identifying or disclosing the source of the reported assassination threat on his life and those of his media colleagues must be eschewed. ALJA maintained such disclosure would further endanger the lives of the journalists and their families.
ALJA says it will hold the government to its promise to expeditiously investigate the reported threat against the lives of the journalists and report its findings promptly. The Liberian government in a statement issued on April 4, 2019, through the Minister of Information renewed its commitment to respecting the views of the Independent media and said it would not condone violence against the media.