The European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA) wishes to condemn in no uncertain terms the ruling of the case that Dr. J. Christopher Toe, former Minister of Agriculture of Liberia filed for an Action of Damages for Libel in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court, Monrovia, against the FrontPageAfrica newspaper and the subsequent incarceration of its Managing Editor, Mr. Rodney Sieh.
Liberians in the European Diaspora had given the government of Liberia the benefit of doubt over a week to see reason and release Mr Sieh without any preconditions after the initial wave of condemnations from around the world concerning this travesty of justice. The decision by the court is shocking and an unacceptable violation of freedom of information dissemination. We stand in solidarity and shoulder to Shoulder with Mr Rodney Sieh and Front Page Africa.
Liberians in Europe under the umbrella of EFLA supports fight by Front Page Africa and other media outlets in exposing the issues of rampant corruption documented and supported by reports of the General Auditing Commission. Corruption, in our country, today has put Liberia again on the map as one of the most corrupt countries in the world according to reports from Global Witness and Transparency International.
EFLA is concerned about the rate and methods at which officials of government both former and present are winning libel law suits and the imposition of unreasonable and exuberant fines that are intended to shut down the media and control them into submission. The unprecedented award of nearly 2 Million United States Dollars to Dr Toe and detention of Front Page Africa’s Editor by the Court is certainly a joke and even Judge Kontoe cannot quantify the value of a million dollars. Another case involved the $5Million rewarded to President Sirleaf as damages in a case with the New Broom Newspaper in 2010. That paper remains off the news stand today. These actions expose the high level of corruption in the Liberian Judicial branch of government.
It is rather ironic that Liberia is the only country fighting corruption wherein officials accused and indicted are not prosecuted, but will go on to win cases in a court of competent jurisdiction against an institution for telling the story to the Liberian people. Dr Toe was made to resign after series of corruption allegations against him by reports from the General Auditing Commission Audit and a letter to President Sirleaf from Dr Toe’s deputy, Hon. Peter N. Korvah exposing many financial and administrative malpractices within the Ministry of Agriculture.
The use kangaroo courts to silence the people of Liberia are a challenge to our nascent democracy should not be tolerated in any shape or form. European governments and other international organizations and partners to the Liberian Peace Process will be duly informed about the situation developing in Liberia that is brewing into a recipe for another wave of civil strife if not brought under immediate control.
Let us all be reminded that the over 250,000 people who lost their lives during 14 years of Liberia’s civil war did so for FREEDOM, JUSTICE and EQUALITY. No Liberian is better than the other! The current government should do more in demonstrating its commitment to maintain peace and fight corruption by implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC Report and implementing the recommendations of the General Auditing Commission and the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission respectively.
In so doing, we urge President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Nobel Laureate to do everything possible within the limits of her powers to ensure that the undertaking of Press Freedom and Liberia’s signature on the Declaration of Table Mountain are respected and that Mr. Rodney Sieh is released immediately plus the unlocking of the offices of Front Page Africa.
The European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA) is an umbrella of European Liberian organizations and associations that was established in July 2003 in an effort to provide support to Liberians in Europe and Liberia. EFLA is a legally registered Belgian based federation comprising of a network of Liberian Associations and Organizations located in The Netherlands, France, Luxemburg, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, The United Kingdom, The Kingdom of Belgium, Italy, The Republic of Ireland, and Denmark.
pic: Editor Rodney Sieh is sorrounded by Liberian security officers in Monrovia