At an event organized by Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism held at the prestigious Country Lodge Hotel on 13th July 2021, a platform for fact-checking, DUBAWA, was launched by the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swarray.
DUBAWA (a Hausa word that means checking) is an independent verification and fact-checking platform, promoted by Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism to help amplify the culture of truth in public discourse, public policy and journalistic practice.
It is non-partisan, accepting only to uphold the values of accuracy, balance, transparency, verification, independence and accountability in all its operations.
In his keynote address, the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swarray, lauded the venture and asserted that it is in line with President Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to enhancing a productive media landscape.
He hastened to remind stakeholders about President Bio’s actions in repealing Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act that criminalized libel as well as empowering the Independent Media Commission (IMC) to regulate the media, both of which promote freedom and deepen free speech.
“Repealing the Criminal libel law will continue to unshakle freedoms and deepen free speech,” the Minister underscored.
He described the prevalence of fake news and misinformation as a serious concern in this digital age. “The time is now to combat this menace and this DUBAWA fact-checking tool is a welcoming development,” he noted.
The Information Minister recalled how fake news led to the death of the spouse of one journalist in Sierra Leone (fake news on vaccination) and also referenced a fake government press release that was asking all non Mende soldiers to surrender their weapons and be dismissed. He called these acts “dastardly” and “sad”.
Minister Swaray further disclosed that Sierra Leone has started her accession to the Global Media Freedom Coalition which was launched in 2018 in the UK aimed at creating comfort for journalists.
Various speakers subscribed to the importance of such a tool in tackling fake news and misinformation.
Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications