Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea on the north, Liberia in the south-east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south-west. Sierra Leone became independent in 1961. Sierra Leone is a member of many international organisations, including the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union (MRU), the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Development Bank, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature.
At – a – glance
Official Language: English
President: Ernest Bai Koroma (since 2007)
Population: 6.1 million (UN, 2012)
National Anthem: High we Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free
The Media & Freedom of Expression Landscape in Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leone constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and freedom of the press; however, the government maintains strong control of media, and at times restricts these rights in practice. According to Freedom House, the administration of President Ernest Bai Koroma continues to suppress media freedoms through onerous libel and sedition laws even though freedoms of speech and the press are constitutionally guaranteed.
For instance, in August 2014, a journalist for the biweekly newspaper Politico was arrested on charges of contempt after publishing an article that accused the judiciary of intentionally delaying the trial of 14 soldiers on charges of mutiny. And in November of the same year, one of the country’s most prominent journalists was detained after dedicating a segment of his radio program to a critical discussion of the government’s response to the Ebola crisis.
Due to low levels of literacy in the country, radio is the most-popular and most-trusted media in Sierra Leone. For more information on the status of FoE in Sierra Leone, visit: Freedom House
Media Regulatory Bodies in Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leonean media is regulated by the Independent Media Commission (IMC). This body is charged with the responsibility of promoting a free and pluralistic media throughout Sierra Leone and to ensure that media institutions achieve the highest level of efficiency in providing media services. Others are the domestic Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Media Reform Coordinating Group, Women in the ,Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL), Sports Writers of Sierra Leone (SWSL), Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU), Association of Journalist on Mining and Extractives (AJME).