MONROVIA, Oct. 21 (LINA) – Information Minister Ledgerhood J. Rennie has said that the Government of Liberia is not in the business of taking people’s lives, assuring the public of the government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for free expression.
The Information Minister emphasized that the Government of Liberia has no desire of pursuing anyone on account of views expressed, as perceived by some members of the Liberian society.
Minister Rennie was reacting to allegations that talk show host, T-Max Jlateh, had filed a complaint to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) claiming threats on his life.
Subsequently, the longtime broadcaster along with PUL President; Charles Coffey were invited to a conference by the Information Minister in an attempt to authenticate the claim of the journalist.
The meeting, which took place at the Capitol Hill office of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), included other journalists and representatives of civil society organizations.
Mr. Jlateh was accompanied to the forum by his lawyers, where he reiterated his earlier complaint filed with the PUL and recounted being alerted to pending plots against him and his family, and in some instances, being pursued by unmarked vehicles.
However, the broadcaster acknowledged having no personal problem with the leader of the Liberian government, President George M Weah, emphasizing: « I have not received any threat from [President] Weah ».
Notwithstanding, one of his lawyers stated that while his client may not have been directly threatened by senior Liberian officials, « people acting on their behalf could decide to be more loyal than the government itself » in taking unlawful actions against Mr. Jlateh.
Meanwhile, the Information Minister has reiterated that the government’s position is to create an enabling environment for free expression, adding that the government has no desire of pursuing anyone based on the expression of their views on national issues..
« The government is not in the business of taking people’s lives », Minister Rennie said, reassuring Mr. Jlateh that his complaint will be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for further investigation.
Rennie said as a journalist himself, he understands the plight of his colleagues and will work for their welfare, but he also used the occasion to warn against incendiary language being used on some media platforms.
Also, PUL President Charles Coffey, during the meeting, revealed that in addition to Jlateh’s complaint, he has also received complaints from other journalists alleging threats to their persons.
Minister Rennie responded by suggesting a regular dialogue with the PUL and civil society organizations which, according to him, will be used to iron out differences and build confidence.
In related development, the PUL President has commended the Liberian government for ‘significant steps’ taken in ensuring press freedom and freedom of expression.
« As it has always done, the PUL is using this occasion to again recognize and hail the Liberian government, particularly the George Weah administration for repealing some of the negative media laws on the books, » the PUL President noted during the recent celebration of the PUL Anniversary in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
He added that in furtherance of press freedom and freedom of expression, the Liberian Government under the George Weah Administration on February 21, 2019 repealed in its entirety sections of the Penal Law of 1978 relative to criminal libel against the president and criminal malevolence.
He indicated that the PUL will always be grateful to President Weah, the Liberian Senate and House of Representatives for repealing these sections of the Penal Law.