By Musa Kamara
At this year’s Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Annual General Meeting, held in Bo, with theme, “Looking inwards, looking outwards: Towards a strong accountable and united SLAJ and a free and professional media,” Mohamed R. Swaray, Minister of Information and Communications (MIC) has vowed to work with SLAJ and other media partners in every step of the way.
The commitments that were put through by Minister Swaray cut across the protection of journalists and their sources of info; freedom of expression and Cyber Security; access to public information; respect of privacy and human dignity; media pluralism and diversity, etc.
He acknowledged that the media profession is very constrained, and poor salaries for staff have been a huge challenge in most media houses. Such he added, has contributed to what he described as bribery-based journalism.
“Government has therefore made provision under the new IMC Act 2020 to address the issue of salaries for journalists,” he stated.
The Minister mentioned that the Independent Media Commission (IMC) has been empowered to uphold its independence and play its role effectively as a media regulator.
Based on partnership with the Ministry of Finance, the Minister mentioned that government is providing trainings, fuel and transportation supports to community radio stations.
The Information Minister emphasized that government through MIC will continue to review priorities and operations needed in a media-friendly environment.
He informed that President Bio is very concern about press freedom and that the President has been consistently promoting policies geared towards the safety of journalists, which boils down to strong media-government collaboration for development.
Minister Swaray noted that this year’s SLAJ-AGM comes with a landmark difference which is plainly, the repeal of Part V of the 1965 Public Order Act.
“That repeal has triggered great expectations of a vibrant media and robust civil society, and of a strengthened democracy,” Minister Swaray enlightened.
This AGM of SLAJ marks the 50th Anniversary of SLAJ with so much more to discuss in the media landscape.