May 24, 2006
Posted: June 12, 2006
George D. Watkins, Radio Veritas
Watkins, a journalist for the Catholic Church-owned Radio Veritas, was assaulted by State Security Services (SSS) agents while reporting on the SSS’s alleged enlistment of a former rebel commander, according to the independent daily The Analyst and the Press Union of Liberia.
Watkins was attacked after he went to the SSS offices in the capital, Monrovia, to investigate whether a former commander from the defunct LURD rebel group had been given an SSS post. He told The Analyst he was referred to the SSS by a government spokesman.
LURD was one of a coalition of rebel groups credited with forcing former president Charles Taylor to step down in August 2003. Several former LURD fighters were integrated into the new government, and security forces.
The press union protested the attack on Watkins, along with other press freedom issues, in a May 30 letter to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and in a meeting with Information Ministry officials. The Information Ministry released a statement in response promising an investigation into a series of violent attacks against Liberian journalists.