The Perspective Condemns the Unilateral and Illegal Action of the Minister of Information


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 1, 2007


Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh
Over the years, The Perspective newsmagazine has been at the forefront in the fight for social justice and political freedom to ensure the advent of democracy in Liberia. One of the basic tenets of democracy is the freedom of speech. In its many forms, the media represents a clear manifestation of freedom in any nation.

Since her creation, the Republic of Liberia has rarely enjoyed press freedom. This was a corollary of the systematic oppressive regimes that controlled the nation decade after decade. This lack of political freedom and justice led to the devastating war that brought the nation to its feet.

Ironically, it was not always that leaders sought absolute power, but rather, that henchmen, sycophants and people with little respect for the freedom and the dignity of their compatriots made sure that every breath of free expression was suppressed.

Today is a sad day for the media. It comes just a few days after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stood up and upheld her commitment to moral standards by asking one of her most trusted lieutenants to step down for lapse in judgment. Just as the nation celebrates this new fight against impunity, another of the president's men, the Minister of Information took the nation back to the years of dictatorship. By shutting down a media outlet without judgment, without hearing, in the absence of due process of the law, the minister has taken the public back to those days of intimidation and oppression where the media was to take direct orders from the government.

The election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the result of many decades of struggle by the people of Liberia to attain freedom, democracy and the respect for the rule of law. This act by Minister Bropleh is nothing but an act of over-zealousness. It is meant to show to the president and the government that the minister is there to protect them against the public. That is not his job and we doubt that is what Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expects of him.

We are well aware that there are laws against indecency on the books in Liberia. We would applaud the Minister were he to use his resources to look around Monrovia where pornographic movies are shown in broad day light to under-aged children in hundreds of video clubs. We also challenge him to shine a light on the many streets of Monrovia taken over at night by teenagers engaged in sexual trade. Finally, we defy him to look in supermarkets displays where pornography is sold to anyone who wants to buy it.

This is a war against the media, undertaken by a zealous new minister who announced his colors months ago through a series of incoherent statements. He must be stopped, before he turns our new democracy into a dictatorship. He has no right to close a media outlet. That is where the courts come in, that is where the rule of law takes over. This is not the old Liberia. If he truly wants to fight indecency, he needs not look too far and needs no padlock. He is not the law and we want to presume that this action was not the type of actions that the President would condone.

Minister Bropleh must be told what his real job is and how democracy functions. Over two hundred and fifty thousand Liberians died to get us here, there is no going back. We will move forward, with or without the likes of Minister Bropleh.

The Editorial Board of, a newsmagazine that has been at the forefront of the fight for freedom and democracy, wants to add its voice to that of the Press Union of Liberia and in calling on the government to reverse the decision of the minister to shut down the Independent newspaper and ensure that such actions are never again repeated.

Just before going to press, we learned that the government has decided to re-open the media outlet. And this is even worse than the earlier action; it indicates that government can shut you down and re-open at will, with no legal process in-between actions. This is how dictatorships work. This is intimidation at best. We have therefore decided to carry our condemnation of the illegal and unilateral action of the Ministry of Information.

Intimidation and oppression of free speech must stop for democracy to take roots.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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