Ellen Signs Table Mountain Declaration
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has signed the Table Mountain Declaration into law, challenging journalists here to be ethical and responsible in their reportage.
The President noted that many journalists have misused press freedom in their duty as media personnel.
The Liberian leader assured that her government is committed to upholding freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Speaking over the weekend in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Sirleaf said freedom of the press in Liberia is something no one could argue about, adding that ethical breaches in the media were “proofs” of freedom of the press in the country.
She strongly called on the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Peter Quaqua to assist in upholding the responsibility associated with freedom of the press.
Madam Sirleaf said has signed the document to inspire countries on the African continent because freedom of the press is a human right enshrined in the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other international protocols.
She warned that the signing of the protocol will be null and void should such the trend of ethical transgressions persists in the Liberian media. The signing of the Table Mountain Declaration comes less than two years after the signing of the Freedom of Information Act.
Speaking at the occasion, a representative of the World Association of Newspapers, Roger Parkinson commended President Sirleaf for signing the declaration.
Mr. Parkinson said the Table Mounting Declaration was not only concerned with the abolishment of the criminal defamation or “insult law” but also the overall development of countries signing onto it. He said the law could go a step further in sustaining democracies worldwide.
Meanwhile, the President of the Press Union of Liberia, Peter Queque has urged Liberian journalists not to see the law as a license to ethical breaches, stressing it is a tool to enhance responsible reportage.
Queque also called on government to repeal some of the laws on the book that stands in the way of press freedom in Liberia. He said the signing of the Table Mountain Declaration by the government sends out to the world that Liberia is ready and on the path to protecting journalists.
The signing was made possible by the Center for Media Studies and Peace-building (CEMESP), the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) and the Press Union of Liberia.
The World Association of Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers, the African Editors’ Forum and the World Editors’ Forum have been instrumental in the success of the program.
The Declaration of Table Mountain is a program that is a strategic part of the partnership between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) to advance media development and press freedom worldwide.