By Alieu Kondoh
Following a Press Release Dated 15 May, 2020 that was issued by the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Tawarally outlining criteria for Journalists to be accredited to report Parliamentary proceedings, the Guild of Newspaper Editors has in a counter press statement expressed dismay at the release from parliament saying that it is tantamount to an unjustified restriction of journalists access to parliamentary proceedings and also a form of censorship and a calculated attempt to muzzle free and independent press in Sierra Leone.
In an interview with the Chairman of Guild of Newspaper Editors, Donald Theo Harding, he said that they are concern that parliament is implementing criteria for journalists to report on parliamentary proceedings, saying that it is unfortunate especially when the release by parliament was trying to state the conditions under which journalists should be accredited.
He maintained that it is not the responsibility of parliament to proffer criteria for journalists as there are professional media regulatory bodies such as the IMC which was set up by an act of parliament to regulate journalists in the discharge of their duties.
He said parliament was overriding institutions not to do their jobs properly, whilst maintaining that parliament has the right to guide the accreditation process of journalists wishing to report on parliament but they do not have the right to determine who a journalist is, which there (Parliament) press release is saying.
He said the Guild of Newspaper Editors deemed the press release from the Clerk of parliament as a way to regulate press freedom and the freedom of journalists to report, noting that they will not bend backwards to discuss the qualification of journalists.