May 6, 2002 President Charles G. Taylor
President of the Republic of Liberia
Via facsimile: 231-225-217Your Excellency:
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by the recent closure of The Analyst, an independent newspaper based in the capital, Monrovia.
During the early morning hours of April 25, police shut down The Analyst and ransacked the publication's offices. According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Monrovia police chief Paul Mulbah said the ban was permanent and refused to give reasons for the closure. "The paper is closed and will not print again. This is a government order," Mulbah told the AP.
According to sources at the paper, the officers did not have documentation authorizing them to close the paper and raid the offices.
Local sources suspect the shutdown came because the paper's April 25 edition contained an interview with Liberian human rights lawyer Tiawan Gongloe, who had been arrested the previous day for making statements that allegedly "undermined the government" and were "inimical to state security."
In that same issue, the regular column "Memo to the President" analyzed Your Excellency's alleged shortcomings and those of previous Liberian heads of state.
This is the second time this year that The Analyst has been shut down. On February 12, police ordered the newspaper to cease publishing after it ran articles criticizing the state of emergency that Your Excellency declared on February 8. The suspension was lifted a week later.
As an organization of journalists dedicated to promoting and defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ condemns such attacks on the independent press. We urge you to ensure that independent media outlets are not harassed, and to allow Liberian journalists to practice their profession without fear of reprisal. Thank you for your attention to these urgent matters. We await your reply.