It could be recalled that on Monday 21st May 2018, President Julius Maada Bio met with executive members of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) at State House, where he like his predecessors promised his government’s commitment to repeal the country’s odious criminal libel laws.
Many journalists who spoke to AYV expressed appreciation for the progress in the repeal of part five of the 1965 Public Order Act.
SLAJ Public Affairs Secretary, Princess Gibson said the move by Cabinet to approve the repeal of this obnoxious act is a step in the right direction. She added that the repeal of the criminal and seditious law will not only help journalists but also the general public.
Gibson urged Parliament to debate and act fact on the repeal process, citing that some other documents have been stuck at some point during review processes at Parliament.
Editor of SALONE TIMES Newspaper, Thomas Dixon said he is happy to receive such information, adding that this law if repealed will not only protect journalists but also members of the general public.
According to him, government or Parliament should not fear a replacement of the Criminal and Seditious Libel, stating that the Civil Libel law will serve as a replacement.
A senior journalist working for Global Times Newspaper, Sylvester Samba said he hopes to see the repeal of part five of this Act come to reality adding that governments have come and gone without living up to this particular promise.
These journalists expressed their gratitude to past and present executives of SLAJ for their continuous strides in the fight to have this law repealed.
The law was passed in 1965 clearly to suppress press freedom. It allows for pre-trial detention and under it truth is not necessarily a defence. Successive leaders since the 1990s promised and failed to repeal the law which journalists say is obnoxious, retrograde and bad for democracy.