ALJA Applauds PUL For Peaceful Protest

Debunks Corruption Probe Report Against Former National President

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is commending the Press Union of Liberia(PUL) for the recent orchestrated and peacefully executed journalists protest conducted in Monrovia, Liberia,  in the wake of widespread physical assaults targeted at journalists in the country by government security forces, especially some members of the elite Executive Protective Services(EPS) and the Liberia National Police(LNP).

ALJA lauded the Union’s leadership and its members for the political maturity and professionalism demonstrated in the conduct of the protest. The Association, in a press release issued on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, termed the current wave of physical assaults on Liberian journalists coupled with detentions as unprecedented.

The journalists protest was held on Thursday, March 12, 2020; and it followed reported attacks by state security forces, who are paid by taxpayers, against more than ten Journalists in different parts of the country including Lofa, Rivercess and Montserrado Counties.

The protestors petitioned President Weah, the National Legislature, and a number of Embassies accredited near the capital, Monrovia, and representatives of the European Union and the United Nations. In their petition, the journalists called for an end to the widespread assaults on the media.

ALJA stressed that it remains supportive of the protest and all peaceful actions undertaken by journalists that seek to uphold the fundamental rights of media practitioners in Liberia in the execution of their professional duties without fear or intimidation. The Association says the unity of purpose exhibited by the PUL and its members is a clear indication that journalists will not sit by idly while their rights are being trampled upon by security officers who see themselves more as partisans and supporters of the government than patriots   

ALJA says whether the unprecedented wave of physical assaults on journalists are state-sanctioned or carried out by rogue security officers, they do grave damage to the image of the country as evidenced by the recent US Human Rights report on Liberia which accused the Weah administration of substantial restrictions on free expression and the press,

ALJA says while it appreciates the government’s commitment to addressing the concerns raised by the Union no later than Wednesday of this week, it is however, disappointed that it would require a mass protest by the membership of the PUL for the government to take the repeated attacks on journalists seriously. ALJA called on the PUL and all members of the Liberian Fourth Estate to consider other punitive actions including a media blackout on the government should President Weah government fail to adequately address the concerns contained in their petition.

ALJA again reiterated that the Liberian government and the media are not adversaries and they must work in unison for a stable and better Liberia. The organization says it perceives the continuous attack on the Liberian Media by security forces as a ploy to silence the media and cow Liberian journalists into submission. The Association says it condemns in the strongest term anyone plotting such scheme; and called on all Liberians to do same.

In a related development, the ALJA says it has explicit trust and confidence in the character and reputation of its immediate past National President Moses D. Sandy.

The Association says former President Sandy is an honest and dedicated community leader, who over the years worked tirelessly with his peers for the rejuvenation of the Association after it crumbled in 2004 as a result of internal rift amongst its members. ALJA was revamped in 2014 after 10 years of dormancy.

ALJA National President Joe Mason described the former President’s leadership records in the history of ALJA as impeccable. He said “Mr. Sandy’s leadership in the history of ALJA was outstanding and unmatched; and he enjoys the trust and confidence of the officers and members of the Association”.

President Mason said the former President on some occasions willingly used his personal money and material resources for the growth and development of ALJA when the association was in dire straits financially . He furthered “Mr. Sandy and his family worked overtime for the vivacious and enviable ALJA we have today”. 

He continued “The ALJA family is proud of Mr. Sandy and his family for the outstanding services rendered the Association and local Liberian journalists, who visited the United States over the years when he served as Chairman of the ALJA resuscitation committee and two times National President. They were warm and receptive to every journalist, who visited their homes in the name of ALJA and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL)”.

Meanwhile, ALJA says its attention has been drawn to a media smear campaign targeted at the Association’s National President emeritus, Moses D. Sandy, and his family. The Association National President, Joe Mason, categorically refuted a recent Facebook post alleging financial malpractices and a purported investigation of former President Sandy

Mr. Mason described the publication, contained in a March 10, 2020 Facebook Post,by one Prince Sheriff as unfortunate; and says ALJA has neither sanctioned a probe nor knows of any investigation involving the former National President.  ALJA says it is unethical but not surprising that Mr. Sheriff who places his support for the ruling CDC above objectivity and factual reporting would resort to, innuendos, misinformation and outright lies to impugn Mr. Sandy’s character and bring the reputation of ALJA into public disrepute.

The Association further clarified that when Mr. Sandy’s ended his distinguished four-year tenure as President of ALJA, he presented a financial report that was accepted by the organization’s general membership.

The Association said it had adhered to calls not to dignify and elevate Mr. Sheriff’s allegation to a platform that it doesn’t deserve. However, given that these allegations border on Mr. Sandy’s character and the professional image and reputation of ALJA, the leadership decided it is now prudent to set the records straight.

ALJA also states emphatically that while it has not begun the process of sending out invitations for the Association’s 6th annual convention scheduled for September 24-27 2020 in Trenton, New Jersey, the decision to do so is the sole prerogative of the current National Administration headed by its current National President, Mr. Joe Mason.

Former President Sandy is credited for leading the resuscitation efforts of ALJA and the expansion of the Association’s membership. His administration revived two chapters (Delaware Valley and Mid-west) of the Association and the revamping of the non-profit status of the organization.

Additionally, the Sandy administration made ALJA visible at home and abroad. As a result of the work done over the years, ALJA is now a critical voice for press freedom, free speech and good governance in Liberia. Currently, ALJA remains one of the few diaspora based Liberian organization that continues to speak to the critical issues of bad and good governance in Liberia.

ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It is a 501c (3) non-profit organization. The Association was founded in 1998 with the objectives of fostering companionship amongst its members and their American counterparts. Additionally, ALJA is committed to advancing press freedom through media capacity building and the fostering of good governance in Liberia through media advocacy.

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