Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Liberian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into radio and TV reporter Tyron Brown’s murder and to do everything possible to find those responsible.
Brown’s body was found in the early hours of 16 April on a street in a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, where he had been thrown from a car after being stabbed twice, police said. Brown worked for Super FM, a commercial radio and TV station.
Charles Coffey, the head of the Press Union of Liberia, told RSF he was “shocked over the vicious killing” and concerned that it had “increased the level of fear” and “self-censorship” among Liberia’s journalists.
“We ask the Liberian authorities to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances of Tyron Brown’s murder and to not rule out the possibility that it was linked to his work as a journalist,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “His murder has come in a climate of growing hostility towards journalists in recent months despite repeated promises by Liberia’s new president, George Weah, to defend press freedom.”
The Press Union of Liberia addressed an open letter to the UN secretary-general on 11 April voicing alarm at the “pace at which official intolerance for independent journalism and dissent is escalating in Liberia.” Two days before, the entire staff of the Monrovia-based daily, FrontPage Africa, were arrested and questioned by court officials in connection with a story about ruling party associates.
BBC reporter Jonathan Paye-Layleh has fled the country fearing reprisals from President Weah’s supporters after Weah accused him, during a press conference in March, of questioning the sincerity of Weah’s defence of human rights during Liberia’s civil war.
Journalists have also been attacked by Monrovia’s mayor, who described himself last month as “careless about the media criticisms of this government.”
Liberia is ranked 94th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.