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Sierra Leone News: SLAJ distributes high-visibility vests to journalists

As a way of ensuring the safety and security of journalists across the country on Elections Day, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) on Monday 5 March 2018 distributed numbered, high-visibility vests to various registered media institutions.
This historic event took place at the Harry Yansanneh Hall, SLAJ Headquarters at Campbell Street, Freetown.
Speaking to the membership, the President of SLAJ, Kelvin X. Lewis, said they requested the vests for journalists to be seen differently from other members of the public on voting day. The bright orange vests have light-reflector strips across the front and back. “PRESS” and “SLAJ” are written in bold print across the back and the SLAJ logo graces the front left side. On the right front side is the unique number 001 – 999.
“This vest might save us from harassment or beatings, but it’s not bullet proof,” he said, urging the membership to be professional, respectful and diligent.
The SLAJ President warned that the visible vests are for media practitioners. The vests are numbered and each institution will register journalists and keep track of who is wearing what number. This will increase the accountability and responsibility of the media.
“I hope and pray nothing happens but if anything happens we will be able to identify the individual through the number on his/her vest,” he said.
The Coordinator Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) who is also a Commissioner at the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Francis Sowa, reminded colleague journalists about what the IMC Code of Practice said about reporting during the cooling off period.
He admonished journalists not to engage in any political reporting or broadcasting on the day before polling day, as they should be focused on voters education and peace messages as a way of maintaining their integrity in line with the laws.
According to the Secretary General of the SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, the vests are a gift from the European Union (EU) through the United Nation Development Program (UNDP). “We received 1,000 high-visibility vests and we have distributed some considerable amount to media institutions include three to each print media, five to radio stations and 10 to television stations. AMK/5/3/18
By Alhaji M. Kamara
Tuesday March 06, 2018.

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