Freedom of Expression Must Go with Responsibility

The Issue Of freedom of expression and of the press is of course a constitutional right provided for and enshrined in the January 6, 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

Consequently, The Constitution of Liberia also attaches responsibilities to said freedom of expression and speech for all citizens.

But In Liberia, many Liberians especially those who are a part of the estimated 85% illiterate population of the country disregard the portion of the rights and responsibilities that go along with the professed freedom of expression.

Not Only Those who are illiterate, but also perceived functional literate most of the times put out greater surprises too to the minority functional literate.

In Most Instances, we have come to realize over the years that many Liberians both literate and illiterate have been bent on making reckless statements or comments in the public against government officials without considering the responsibilities associated with their utterances.

Though Same Were not very glaring during the regimes of slain President Samuel K. Doe and now jailed former President Charles G. Taylor as said regimes have been widely labeled as tyrannical, dictatorial and so on, but there is a new dawn of democracy in Liberia.

In Spite Of the above, during the Regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf many Liberians both at home and abroad were mostly at liberty to freely express themselves and speak on issues that did not go well with them as the first democratically elected female President of Africa steered the affairs of the country.

This Was Because, Madam Sirleaf created the atmosphere and conditions for Liberians to freely express themselves, but with a caution to be mindful of the abuses thereof.

In The Midst of all these, the New Broom Newspaper disappeared in tin air when it swept until it climbed on top of the head of the old lady, Madam Sirleaf as she (New Broom Newspaper) was sued for 1.5m damages in a libel case.

FrontPage Africa Newspaper Managing Editor, Rodney Sieh’s sleeping place was also changed (jailed) for quoting a General Auditing Commission (GAC) Report against then Agriculture Minister Dr. Christopher Toe over the reported misuse of US$2.5m to fight alleged ‘Army Worm’ in Bong County.

Being Mindful Of international treaties and instruments that Liberia is signatory to, former President Sirleaf was successful in signing onto the Table Mountain Declaration, the donation of one hundred thousand United States Dollars for the construction of the Headquarters of the Press Union of Liberia and the introduction of a bill calling for decriminalizing laws against the media that was recently resubmitted by President George M. Weah for passage by the Legislature.

Under The Weah regime, similar freedom of expression is expected to be sanctioned by his CDC led government, but people have to be mindful and responsible for what they say, how they say it and why they say it.

Our Attention Has especially been drawn to the recent statement attributed to a Liberian residing in the United States of America allegedly calling for the assassination of President George M. Weah.

We Think This is undemocratic and falls aside of our professed freedom of expression and must be condemned by all peace-loving Liberians in the strongest term.

We Therefore Call on all Liberians to responsibly express themselves on issues of concern to them under the administration of soccer legend, George Weah as he steers the affairs of the country for the next six years and that the Government too must be willing to accept criticisms from all Liberians as this helps to strengthen the democracy of the country.

Let It Also be known that not because former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf accepted all manners and forms of open insults as a female from the very people who are now at the helm of power today that the heads of the power that be today will accept same.

A Popular Liberian proverb says a child cannot eat from the hand of every mother and that the child you know best is the one in whose mouth you put your tongue.

In Conclusion, we call on all Liberians not to be silent on issues affecting them under the Pro-Poor Agenda of the CDC lead government, but must be done constructively, responsibly and in the best interest of love for country and nation building.

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