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CEMESP hosts media and security dialogue

(CEMESP/IFEX) - April 2, 2010, Monrovia, Liberia - The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), with support from the IFEX Campaigns and Advocacy Programme, will, on Wednesday, April 7, 2010, hold a one-day symposium on complementing roles of the media and security agencies in Liberia.

The symposium will bring together heads of security institutions and media executives in a brain-storming session with the view to making security personnel understand and respect media freedom as well as making journalists understand the functions of security agencies towards building a better and more cordial relationship between both professional bodies.

The forum, which will be held at the YMCA auditorium on Broad Street under the theme: "Complementing Roles and Responsibilities of Media Practitioners and Security Personnel in fostering Media Freedom in Liberia", comes amid reports of harassment and intimidation from security personnel against journalists in the performance of their duties.

As part of its role in media development and a campaign for free expression and free press, CEMESP sees this symposium as a step towards the eventual enhancement of press freedom in Liberia.

Freedom House, in its Freedom of the Press 2009 report, categorized Liberia as NOT FREE. Among 195 countries surveyed, Liberia stands at the 138th position with a ranking of 63. Freedom House grading is based on three factors: the legal environment in which media outlets operate; political influences on reporting and access to information; and economic pressures on contents and the dissemination of news.

The recently released Human Rights Report of the United States Department of State restated reports of security officials harassing journalists during the year, including an investigation that closed down with no action.

According to CEMESP's executive director, Malcolm Joseph, of 26 attacks reported in the organization's 2009 "Report on attacks on Free Expression in Liberia", five were directly attributed to police actions, while others were executed by security upon directives of other government actors.

CEMESP hopes this dialogue will keep both sides in a position to respect the other in the exercise of their respective responsibilities and avoid instances that infringe upon press freedom.

CEMESP is working to help create an environment that promotes free expression.

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