Editorial: Calling The Weah Administration Back To The Table Mountain Declaration

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THE CENTER FOR Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) has become deeply concerned that the government of President George Manneh Weah’s ban on talk show host, Henry P. Costa, from broadcasting in Liberia violates Article 20 of the 1986 Constitution: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in accordance with due process of law…”

CEMESP IS CONCERNED that the action of the government banning the relay of the “Costa Show” on D-15 radio violates the Constitution and contradicts the country’s expressed commitment to the intent of the Declaration of the Table Mountain to promote a strong, free and independent press to watch over civic, public institutions. CEMESP reminds the government that   Liberia was amongst the first group of countries that signed the Declaration of Table Mountain, a continental press freedom agreement that calls on governments to play a germane role that prevents the press from being hindered and punished through “insult laws” and criminal defamation.

ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2021, the government warned D-15 FM not to relay the “Costa Show”, arguing that the host of the show, Henry P. Costa, is a “fugitive” from justice,  and  hence “cannot host radio programs from the United States meant to communicate to the Liberian audience”. But CEMESP states that Article 13(b) provides, “Every Liberian Citizen shall have the right to leave and to enter Liberia at any time.” And that in the case of a crime, Liberia should exercise its extradition treaty agreement with the United States to have Costa answer to any charge. The civil society group is concerned, “Costa has never been convicted of any crime in any court and, therefore, he cannot be deprived of his right to freedom of expression guaranteed in Article 15 of the Constitution, which states, ‘Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof,’ and, ‘This right shall not be curtailed, restricted or enjoined by government save during an emergency declared in accordance with this Constitution.’”

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