Written by: Paul M. Kanneh
Monrovia…Former President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), now President of West Africa Journalists Association (WAJA), Peter Quaqua has withdrawn from the Special Presidential Committee set up by President George Weah to probe into violence against journalists.
In a statement released in Monrovia on Sunday, April 26, 2020, Mr. Quaqua said his decision to step down from the Committee is due to lack of action following the establishment of the Committee in March 2020. According to him, he saw his selection on the Committee by the President as an opportunity to help look into reports of assaults on journalists by state security personnel.
The Special President Committee was constituted after the PUL presented a petition to the Government of Liberia following a street protest by journalists on March 12, 2020.
The WAJA Boss said he was one of those who subsequently backed calls for investigation into reports of attacks on journalist with the view to punish perpetrators so as to serve as deterrent.
“I was one of those who subsequently backed the call for the Government to conduct a speedy investigation in the attacks with the view to punishing perpetrators to serve as a deterrent”, Mr. Quaqua said in a release.
The tough talking Liberian journalist however said, since the appointment of the committee, with a mandate to report in ten working days, the committee has never met-making him to wonder whether the Government ever intended addressing the plight of aggrieved journalists.
Before his resignation, Mr. Quaqua expressed disagreement over the appointment of Presidential Advisor, former Information Minister Laurence Bropleh as head of the committee. “On the 1st of April, I was forced to make a public clarification to the effect that the chairman of the Committee, Presidential envoy, Dr. Larry Bropleh, had been quoted in the news announcing suspension of the investigation until April 15 for fear of the coronavirus, with no input from other committee members. And even after making such unilateral decision, the Chairman has yet to convene any meeting”, he said.
Against this background, the WAJA Leader said he has no choice but to withdraw his membership from the committee, adding, he has been very reluctant to take this decision in the interest of the affected journalists, haven been encouraged by some colleagues to stay on.
Prior to his resignation, he said he gave several notices of lack of action to proceed with the investigation, noting that he was convinced that the committee was merely a smokescreen. In so doing, the former PUL Executive intimated that he feels vindicated to stand-down at this stage, and that he was doing so with a heavy heart because once again, political leaders seem to have missed another opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to protect journalists.
Meanwhile, Mr. Quaqua has expressed thanks and appreciation to President Weah for the opportunity giving him, and wished the committee well in its stride to probe into violence against journalists.