March 13, 2012
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President of the Republic of Liberia
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Dear President Johnson Sirleaf:
The Committee to Protect
Journalists is alarmed by threats made against Liberian journalist Mae Azango,
who has been in hiding since last week after she reported on the practice of
female genital mutilation. We urge you, Madam President, as Africa's first and
only female head of state and a champion of women's rights, to direct the
Liberian authorities to ensure her safety and fully investigate the threats
made against her.
Azango, a reporter for the
daily FrontPage Africa and New Narratives, a project supporting independent media in Africa,
published an article
on March 8 entitled "Growing Pains: Sande Tradition
of Genital Cutting Threatens Liberian Women's Health." The article described
how tribes practice female genital mutilation on as many as two out of every
three girls in the country. Although March 8 was International Women's Day, the
publication of the article was followed by death
threats against Azango. "They left messages and told people to tell me that
they will catch me and cut me so that will make me shut up," she told CPJ. "I
have not been sleeping in my house."
Police Deputy Director Al Karley told CPJ today that he had made Azango's case
a high priority. However, we believe your political leadership is required to ensure
the government will take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and
well-being of this journalist.
We ask you, Madam President, to use the moral authority of your office to speak
out against the threats made against Azango, and to ensure that other
journalists taking on this sensitive topic do not suffer the same fate.
We look forward to your response.