Liberia’s Press Union Detest Arrest, Detention Of Journalist

Monrovia, July 3, 2014: The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has detested the continued and unjustified detention of Journalist Octavin Williams, Publisher of the Nation Times Newspaper by authorities of the Liberia National Police.

Deputy Police Inspector General Abraham Kromah on Wednesday evening ordered the arrest and subsequent detention of the Liberian journalist for what was initially referred to as “driving a vehicle with an American license plate”.

Subsequent claims against Williams have been cited as disorderly conduct, driving an undocumented vehicle and simple assault. Efforts by the Press Union of Liberia and its lawyers to release the journalists from further detention failed up to 5PM Thursday.

PUL President Abdullai Kamara described Octavin’s arrest as a classic act of harassment, geared towards driving the journalist into self-censorship.

The PUL said police authorities were dragging their feet and acting intentionally to keep the journalist in detention, and described their engagements as being marred by inconsistencies that nearly run the patience of the PUL leadership and lawyers. “Up to now we don’t know the actual crime he is accused of,” PUL President Kamara said.

The PUL said it is fully aware of an earlier complaint filed with it against Col. Abraham Kromah by journalist Williams in which the journalist accused him of threatening his life and going after him. The PUL said the arrest comes just after it had gotten assurances from Col. Kromah that he was willing to appear for a hearing at the PUL for a probe into the complaint, pending an official communication. “We now see the reality in the complaint filed by the journalist, and we believe that the unprovoked harassment, tyrannical arrest and unacceptable detention of journalist Williams as going beyond the conflicting reasons stated by the police,” PUL Secretary General D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh added.

The PUL has therefore called on the Police authorities to return to the status quo of the rule of law to release the journalist if it should survive a mass media action in the country. Meanwhile, all members of the Press Union are invited to converge at the offices of the Union at 11am on Friday to chart further actions.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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