Three sports journalists physically assaulted
A group of men, assumed to be the bodyguards of Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio, assault 3 sports journalists during a FIFA World Cup qualifier reports @TheMFWA: https://t.co/J4FbemXPul #IFEXgender— IFEX (@IFEX) September 18, 2019
Physical assault on sports journalists
On 8th September 2019, two female sports journalists, Frances Bernard-Bundor and Esther Maray Samoura, were physically assaulted by individuals believed to be bodyguards of President Julius Maada Bio. The journalists, from the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), were covering the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Sierra Leone and Liberia from the commentary box at the National Stadium when the bodyguards marched into the commentary box, saying they were disturbing the President. After the verbal confrontation, the group of bodyguards reportedly started beating Frances Bernard-Bundor. Esther Maray Samoura was beaten later, when she returned with the Deputy Minister of Sport after seeking help. Samoura's phone was taken from her, she was beaten and her dress torn when she tried to record the intervention by the Deputy Minister. A third journalist, Alimamy Kamara, was also manhandled by the guards. One of the guards reportedly issued death threats to the journalists. The assault was condemned by professional media organisations such as the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), with the latter stating that it is 'worried that the trend seems to indicate a calculated attack on female journalists'. The organisation said that female journalists from radio station Radio Democracy 98.1FM were subjected to a series of verbal attacks on social media just a week prior to the assault on the sports journalists.
In this video, Monitor research partner West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) speaks with Abu Brimah of the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) on the state of civic space in Sierra Leone.
"The environment is becoming more conducive for businesses but the actual rights of citizens are being constricted"
Brimah says that civic space is shrinking in Sierra Leone. Some of the civic space restrictions mentioned are expensive and burdensome NGO registration procedures, the use of the Public Order Act to deny the right to demonstrate and government brutality towards civil society activists while also raising the issue of land rights and land grabbing in Sierra Leone. Brimah further talks about how civil society in Sierra Leone is responding to these civic space restrictions.