Sierra Leone Update: Newspapers suspended for failing to comply with Media Commission’s sanctions

The Independent Observer and Prime Times newspapers both privately-owned newspapers in Sierra Leone have been suspended for failing to pay a fine imposed on them by the media regulatory body in the country.

The Independent Media Commission (IMC) on February 23, 2015, issued a press release indicating that the two newspapers have been suspended until they comply with the directives.

“In accordance with the IMC Act 2000 as amended and the IMC Media Code of Practice, the suspension of both newspapers will be enforced until full compliance with the Commission’s decision is effected”, the IMC said.

The suspension takes effect from February 24.

On February 11, the IMC sanctioned the Independent Observer and Prime Times newspapers for perceived acts of unprofessionalism.

The Independent Observer newspaper was fined 16.5 million Leones (about US$3,700) while the Prime Times newspaper was 3 million Leones (about US$650). The two newspapers were given one week to pay the fine and comply with other conditions or be suspended.

Meanwhile Jonathan Leigh and Kasho Ola Cole managing editors of  Independent Observer and Prime Times newspapers respectively, have told MFWA’s correspondent in Sierra Leone that the newspapers will file an injunction on the IMC decision at the High Court of Sierra Leone to continue publishing while they challenge the fines levied against their newspapers in court.

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