Journalist attacked in Liberia
Violence against journalists is a setback to broader press freedom agenda
By: Jan Beyer, IPI Contributor
VIENNA, Feb 8, 2013 – The station manager of a Liberian radio station was reportedly severely beaten yesterday and later required medical treatment.
Hector Mulbah, station manager at Radio Gbezohn, said that he was beaten after a dispute in which a politician refused to “underwrite the cost of Radio Talks Shows whenever he is hosted,” the New Dawn reported. Country Representative Buchanan Smith allegedly ordered his guards to beat Mulbah.
In an interview given to New Dawn from the intensive care unit, Mulbah recalled: “When I was about to leave, [Smith] ordered his bodyguards to pull me from my car and they started to beat me up”. Mulbah was reportedly rushed the Intensive Care Unit of Arcelor Mittal's Hospital
In October 2012, a journalist with the New Republic was arrested after taking a photo of Police Director Chris Massaquoi at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, the Center for Media Studies & Peacebuilding reported
The Police director justified the arrest by simply arguing that the flash had “irritated his eyes”, the New Republic reported at the time.
The attack on Mulbah last Thursday comes at a time when Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has repeatedly expressed a commitment to strengthen the protection of journalists and of press freedom in general.
In January 2013, Information Minister Lewis Brown told attendees at a media event that Section 11.11 would be repealed from Liberia’s Penal Code. “We’re moving sedition, criminal libel for defamation against the president, and criminal malevolence from our laws,” Heritage Newspaper quoted Brown as saying.