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…To Reopen Chronicle Newspaper

The Supreme Court of Liberia will on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 hear arguments into the Press Union of Liberia’s (PUL) Writ of Prohibition, requesting a reversal of the continuous and illegal closure of the National Chronicle Newspaper by the Liberian Government.

An assignment order from the Supreme Court said Justice in Chambers Kabineh M. Ja’neh will hold a mandatory conference with the parties at 2:30pm on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

The Union, on September 18, 2014, filed a Writ of Prohibition with the Supreme Court, praying the honorable body to reverse the government’s decision to close the National Chronicle Newspaper, which followed the August 14, 2014 incident where heavily armed police officers barricaded the streets, broke into the paper’s offices and shut it down.

The huge police presence and violent movement caused serious fear across the city, with some citizens taking to their heels while others spread rumor of war.

Police had gone to arrest the Publisher of the Newspaper Philipbert Brown without a writ or any other warrant in connection with a story the paper published about the establishment of an interim government in Liberia.

Two of the paper’s staff, Monica Samuels and Philipbert Brown, Jr. were beaten by state security while two others—Emmanuel Logan (IT personnel) and Emanuel Mensah (Editor)—were briefly jailed and released after their lawyer intervened.

The PUL, in the petition, condemned the closure of the paper as a violation of press freedom and free speech as guaranteed under Article 15 (c) of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.

The petition lamented that “the constitutional guarantee of the unlimited rights of the public to be informed” is being “threatened, hijacked and trampled upon by the arbitrary and illegal closure order of the offices of the national Chronicle Newspaper…” 

The PUL emphasized the urgency of the petition “...to inhibit, restrain and prevent the unorthodox application of scare tactics and martial law practices adopted by the government…to prevent it from demonstrating a callous and blatant disregard for press freedoms, individual rights as enshrined in the 1986 constitution of Liberia.”

PUL Legal Counsel Syrenius Cephus said by filing the petition, “the PUL has disagreed with the government and is now exploring judicial action to turn over the illegality.”

PUL President Abdullai Kamara said the Writ of Prohibition is the way to go now, given that political recourses have not yielded any positive and agreeable responses.

Kamara noted that the government is under obligation to guarantee justice and ensure that the rule of law prevails, and expressed confidence that the court is the available body to interpret the law, and ensure that justice is served.