Sierra Leone: Journalist beaten by university staff

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the assault on the managing editor of Night Watch Newspaper, Emmanuel Christian Thorli, and calls on the authorities of Sierra Leone to investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to book.

On September 11, 2022, Emmanuel was beaten by some staff members of the Njala University (NU) in the Ebo Town of the Western Rural District of Waterloo, in Sierra Leone. The NU staff were reportedly unhappy about a statement the journalist had made earlier in a tribute to his late colleague, Ralph Simeon Sesay, former Editor of Night Watch Newspaper and former Public Relations Officer for Njala University.

The contentious statement, according to reports, was a piece of advice he had given his friend when his friend was alive: “you know say Njala na institution wae dorti eh?”(Krio Language) to wit, “you know that Njala is a filthy institution?”. 

Emmanuel said that after giving the tribute, he was invited outside of the New Life Ministries International Waterloo Fellowship Church by Ayuba Koroma, Deputy Public Relations Officer of NU, to discuss with some staff of the Njala University.

However, to his surprise, what was supposed to be a discussion quickly turned sour when he refused to comply with his assailants’ order to return to the church and withdraw a statement he had made earlier.

Fortunately, Emmanuel Thorli was rescued by other journalists and executives of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) who all attended the funerals of their late colleague. The Managing Director of the Night Watch Newspaper also told the MFWA that he was able to receive medical care after the attack.

The SLAJ, through its President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, issued a statement to condemn the assault calling on the Administration of Njala University to investigate the incident and take appropriate action.

Although the incident had been reported to the police, Emmanuel told the MFWA that he feels insecure as he could be attacked again.

While this incident is not about press freedom, it certainly is a petulant attack on Thorli’s right to freedom of expression. The MFWA, therefore, joins the SLAJ to condemn the assault on the journalist. As we express our support for Emmanuel Christian Thorli, we urge the Njala University authorities to investigate and ensure that Thorli receives justice.

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