The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) vehemently condemns the ‘merciless beating’ of journalist Fayia Amara Fayia by a group of about nine military personnel allegedly led by one Major Fofanah in Kenema town this afternoon around 2pm.
The incident, according to his colleague journalists at the scene, took place at a potential quarantine venue at Dama Road, in the full view of the Commanding Officer of the RSLAF 2nd Battalion in Kenema, Major Kamanda, and the Kenema District Council Chairman, ‘Mohamed O’Level’ Sesay.
The journalists say, Faya (and his colleagues) was denied entry into the venue and so he decided to take photos with his phone from a distance when Major Fofanah stepped forward and grabbed the mobile device from him; and later called on his colleagues to beat the journalist.
SLAJ understands from its Regional Executive East that Fayia was initially denied access to medical help and was held in custody by the Kenema Police until the intervention of his colleagues who demanded the journalist be taken to the hospital.
“This is an unfortunate incident as it comes in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis when the role of journalists is pivotal to the national response effort. No matter the facts of the incident, I believe the military has no right to mob an unarmed journalist whose only crime may be over-zealousness in doing his work,” said SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.
Meanwhile, Fayia is responding to treatment at the surgical ward of the Kenema Government Hospital.
SLAJ calls on journalists across the country to be very cautious and self-protective during this crisis period, while we pursue the matter through its Regional Executive and see that the culprits are brought to book.