MONROVIA: A Commissioner of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Attorney Patmillia Palvey, has described as a threat to media freedom the none-payment of debts owed the Liberian media for services rendered.
Addressing program marking the observance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2023, in Monrovia, Atty. Palvey pointed out that the media is also threatened when, in a post-conflict country, such as Liberia, government entities with money in their budgets decide not to purchase or subscribe to newspapers, nor pay for advertisements in the local dailies, but rather chose to use their own social media platforms to publish vacancies and other forms of communication activities.
She made it clear that there are many ways freedom of the press and the public right to know are undermined.
According to her, imposition of unaffordable annual registration fees and tariffs, unpaid debts to media entities on the basis of demanding tax clearances, coupled with intermittent halt towards free and unfettered access to the internet or digital platforms during critical moments of advocacy are contributing to suffocating the vitality and sustainability of a free and vibrant Press.
“This reduces the media’s ability to advocate, expand its markets, grow and produce quality. Despite the increase in media outlets, sustainability is still threatened and potential for quality lags,” the Rights Commissioner emphasized.
“The quality of media improves when there are adequate resources to keep it operational and ethical,” she emphasized.
She further told the media gathering that free press is also threatened when journalists are paid below the minimum wage.
“When a young cub reporter is told by a managing editor that here, we do not pay salaries; it is only a place where you can start off without proper criteria for entry into the profession,” that is also a violation of the right of said reporter, she pointed out.
However, the INCHR Commissioner, among others, encouraged Liberian journalists and media institutions to remain professional in the execution of their duties at all times.