His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has attended the fourth edition of the annual Presidential Media Cocktail organized by the Office of the Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman in the Office of the President.
The event, took place at the Country Lodge, Hill Station in Freetown, will continue to create the platform for President Bio, other senior members of government and media practitioners across the country to interact with journalists and media owners in a very light and relaxed atmosphere.
During the event, the President engage the media on key strides already made by his New Direction Government in promoting and protecting freedom of expression and of the press with specific reference to the landmark repeal, in October this year, of Part V of the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalized libel and suffocated free expression.
“I have always argued that the repeal will unshackle free speech, expand democratic spaces, and consolidate our democracy. It will open up the space for the growth of the media industry in the country. Professionalism will be enhanced and the best and brightest and more women, especially, will be encouraged to work their trade.
“Enforcing criminal libel laws contravenes international democratic governance practices. It contravenes international human rights treaties, to which Sierra Leone is a signatory, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19(3) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. All of those international commitments condemn limitations to the right to free expression,” he said.
It is worth noting that President Bio is the first Head of State in Sierra Leone to have initiated such an interactive session with media practitioners, something which many have described as a sign of his commitment to broadening the democratic space in the country.