It could be recalled that on Wednesday 16th January 2019, journalists from the Africa Young Voices (AYV) Media Empire Makeni office were physically assaulted and their equipment seized reportedly by APC supporters, when the AYV team was performing their professional duty to cover the questioning of former president Ernest Bai Koroma by officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Almost immediately, this attack and alleged death threats were condemned by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI), among several others.
Mr. Fatoma in an exclusive interview condemned the act and described it as an attack on civic space and freedom of expression.
“Political leaders and their followers have a responsibility to respect the work of journalists and civil society. Day in and day out, journalists are being attacked and receiving death threats,” he said. He, however, used the opportunity to remind journalists of their sacred duty and responsibility in disseminating correct, factual and objective information to the public.
He expressed his concern over the loud silence on the part of the government not to condemn such acts which, according to Mr. Fatoma can be seen as a form of tacit endorsement of violence.
He used the opportunity to urge the government to protect the lives of all citizens; especially journalists as failing to do so will be seen as an active endorsement of violence perpetrated against journalists and civil society activists.