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» 18.12.2009 - Liberia exempted from arms embargo
» 17.12.2009 - Media rights group condemns arrest of media players
» 02.11.2009 - Sierra Leone judge takes over Taylor case
» 01.02.2008 - Publisher escapes death trap
» 24.10.2007 - Liberia media confronts threats
» 06.06.2003 - More attacks on Liberian media

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Human rights | Society | Media

Liberian judiciary wrestle media freedom

afrol News, 28 November - Liberian Chief Justice, Johnny Lewis, has ordered a confiscation of a camera belonging to one of the local journalists after he attempted to take his photograph.

Chief Justice Lewis has previously threatened journalists of detention in Monrovia central prison in October if his name was not addressed with "His Honour" in local publications.

Journalist Sando Moore said Chief Justice ordered the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) soldiers to seize the journalist's camera while he was attempting to take photographs on the grounds of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) statement said Mr Moore, who works for Daily Observer in Monrovia, his camera was confiscated after he failed to convince the Chief Justice why he was taking the picture.

"After these exchanges, Lewis ordered his UNMIL assigned bodyguards to forcibly seize the journalist's camera," CEMESP said in a statement, stating that the incident took place in the presence of associate justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia and several lawyers.

Justice Lewis is later said to have returned the camera to Mr Moore after the Press Union of Liberia's intervention also giving the Chief Justice 48 hours ultimatum, threatening to take unspecified action against him.

According to CEMESP, at a meeting with Mr Moore, the managing director of the Daily Observer and a host of other journalists, Justice Lewis said he regretted thesituation and returned the camera.

"It's a victory for the Liberian people, and it's a victory for the new political dispensation. I'm sure the Chief Justice realises that Liberia is not the same like yesterday, and it can never be where you can take advantage of somebody and try to use your position or power over that person," Mr Moore said.

CEMESP has viewed the latest action of Chief Justice Lewis as a continual attempt by public officials to tame and oppress local press.

The Press Union of Liberia has on the other hand in reaction to Chief Justice act, threatened to implement a media blackout of judiciary activities if the Chief Justice continues to intimidate the local press.

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