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Impunity for crimes against journalists reigned supreme in Liberia last year - in part because the authorities are behind most of the attacks, says a new report by the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP).

"The Triumph of Impunity: Account of Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Liberia - 2008," catalogues the threats, brutality and censorship journalists and others faced last year, and discovered that most attacks came from government officials.

Take the case of the Ministry of Information, which last year made good on its threat to shut down and eventually seize a media outlet, as well as barred journalists from a public function.

There were also cases of security forces brutalising journalists.

The report also describes three incidents where people were imprisoned for expressing their opinions, including two journalists for taking photographs, and an anti-war crimes activist who was illegally detained because he wanted to petition the visiting U.S. President.

CEMESP executive director Malcolm Joseph proclaimed, "Triumphantly, impunity is stealing into Liberian politics, society and government," and called for public and government actions against those abusing and attacking the press.

CEMESP hopes its catalogue of attacks, plus additional commentaries by those entrenched in Liberia's media scene, will increase public understanding of free expression and promote people's resolve to stand against those who resent it.

To get a copy of the report, contact: centerforpeacebuilding (@) or read it online:

(11 February 2009)

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