YESTERDAY SEPTEMBER 26, 2022 was indeed a historic moment for press freedom in Africa’s oldest republic when the Supreme Court of Liberia rendered a majority verdict in favor of One Media Incorporated and ordered the issuance of operational license to Punch FM which had been revoked by the Weah administration immediately after taking office in January 2018, under the canopy of compliance violations even though the entity had met all of the legal requirements for operating as a media institution in the Republic of Liberia.
FOR FIVE YEARS running, One Media Inc. and its Founder/Chief Executive Officer Patrick Honnah have relentlessly tested the judicial system, taking their case to the courts, assured in the hope that justice delayed is however not justice denied; that one fine day, their basic right to free expression would be restored.
AND MANY HAD thought that the case was shut and closed when the Civil Law Court ‘A’ in January 2020 ordered the granting of operational license to One Media. Woefully, the Government of Liberia filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, an act that has left the fate of One Media Incorporated and its staff in limbo, from then up to yesterday.
THE DECISION BY the Supreme Court to finally quash the government’s appeal and rule in favor of One Media comes interestingly at a critical juncture when Liberia’s democratic governance is about to be tested, and as global attention veers in the direction of West Africa’s once most troubled hotspot.
AS THE HOLDING of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections draws nearer, concerns are being raised in many quarters about the need for the Weah administration to strengthen democratic institutions that serve as checks and balances between the governed and the governors, and enhance the public trust. On the back of concerns, the international community has been applying pressure on the Liberian government to institute reforms, especially in curbing the rampant corruption that takes food out of the mouths of the hungry populace.
PERHAPS IN A bid to allay such concerns, President Weah assured global leaders on September 22, 2022 at the 77th United National General Assembly in New York, USA about his government’s commitment to enhancing press freedom.
“DEMOCRACY IN LIBERIA also continues to grow from strength to strength. After many years of civil upheaval, Liberia is becoming a stronghold of peace and a safe haven for democracy. This is because we have taken actions in the last few years to build and strengthen democratic institutions, such as the press and the Liberian judiciary,” President Weah had stated at the UNGA.
THE GRANTING OF One Media Incorporated its revoked license is indeed a monumental step in the right direction and a feather in the cap of democratic governance.
FOR US AT THE ANALYST, we see the Supreme Court’s latest decision as sine qua non to the growth and development of our nascent democracy which underwent extreme shocks during the 1980s up to 2003, basically because certain groups of citizens felt more entitled than the rest of their compatriots.
IT IS HOPED that the Supreme Court under the aegis of Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh and her associates will make tenable decisions that will support the strengthening of democratic institutions in our common patrimony.
TO ONE MEDIA Inc., Patrick Honnah and his team, we salute you for believing in the rule of law, testing the system and coming out shining. As pacesetters for the new public trust, it is our shared hope that you will join the democratic space cognizant of the sacred creeds of our revered vocation.
WELCOME BACK ONE MEDIA INCORPORATED!
You better be grateful you have a second chance opportunity to conduct yourself properly within the confines of the core key principles of journalism which are indeed in congruence with those limitations, restrictions, and constraints, stipulated in Article 15 etc. of the Liberian Constitution.
In other words, do not get carried away by the ruling of the Supreme Court. But rather, you save yourself from the wrath of law and power by heeding to the following advice from this very news outlet ” As pacesetters for the new public trust, it is our shared hope that you will join the democratic space cognizant of the sacred creeds of our revered vocation.” Free expression etc. young man, can be used to deceive, threaten, and provoke lawless violence as well as inform, amuse, and debate.
The question in every case is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger or run contrary to those constraints in Article 15 on freedom of the press, speech, expression, etc. and the punishment for the abuse as has always been your case.
As for that rant about taking legal action against the government for its policy on regulation, from wherever you got such dead advice, you better go back and tell them someone has informed you that neither you, your entity, nor any entity can sue the government because its policy prevented you from perpetuating your glaring irregularities or whatever. etc. threatening public peace,law, order, and national security.
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