LIBERIA


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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press





MAY 27, 2003

Stanley McGill, The News
ATTACKED

McGill, a reporter for independent, Monrovia-based daily The News, was attacked near his home by three armed men wearing uniforms of the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), the elite presidential guard. According to McGill, the men, who had apparently followed him home, robbed him of personal effects at gunpoint and promised to return to deal with him further.

ATU soldiers came back to McGill's home on June 6 and this time took his laptop computer. McGill said that his neighbors heard the men outside his house talking about attacking the journalist, who wrote stories that criticized the government of President Charles Taylor.

Following the attack, McGill went into hiding outside the capital, Monrovia. He returned and went back to work at the end of July, following intense fighting between government and rebel forces in the capital.


JUNE 2003

Y-FM
Bright FM
Jet 89.9
The Voice of Kakata
Voice of YMCA

CENSORED

Sometime in early June, the Liberian government closed at least five "amateur" radio stations operating in central Bong County and in Margibi County, just outside the capital, Monrovia.

Liberian authorities did not charge the stations with any offense. According to the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa, an official at the Ministry of Communication alleged that all of the stations had problems with their registration, and that "the motives and scope of operations of [the] stations were not clear to the government."

But journalists in Monrovia said the government more likely shuttered the stations because it feared that they were mobilizing the rural population against the regime of President Charles Taylor.

Journalists said that amateur and community radio stations, most of which are unlicensed and are not operated by professional journalists, are the only source of independent news for Liberians outside Monrovia, a result of years of brutal fighting under the Taylor regime. Some of the stations broadcast BBC or VOA programs with content about Liberia.

At that time, rebel forces based in the countryside had recently intensified their military campaign, and the Taylor government had become more concerned with controlling the airwaves and projecting an image of control throughout the country, local sources said.

JULY 19, 2003

Patrick Robert, Time
ATTACKED

Robert, a French photographer on assignment for the U.S.-based weekly magazine Time, was hit by bullets in his back and arm while covering fighting between forces loyal to President Charles Taylor's government and rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) forces. Though LURD and the Taylor government signed a cease-fire agreement on June 17, fighting in and around the capital, Monrovia, escalated in July.

According to sources at Time, Robert and three other photographers were with government forces when he was caught in the crossfire. None of the other photographers were hit. Robert was taken to a Monrovia hospital, where doctors from the International Committee of the Red Cross operated on him, removing his spleen and a kidney.

On July 23, Robert was flown from Monrovia to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on a French military plane. Later in the day, the plane left for Paris, where Robert continued to receive medical attention.