New York, April 18, 2018–Liberian authorities should thoroughly investigate the killing of Tyron Brown, a video editor and camera operator with Super Communications, a privately owned outlet that runs Super FM and Super Television, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
A black vehicle was seen by at least one witness dropping the journalist’s body outside his home at 3 a.m. in the eastern Paynesville suburb of Monrovia on April 16, according to Smith Toby, station manager of the privately owned radio OK FM, and media reports. He had been stabbed in at least three places, Toby, who had seen a picture of the body, told CPJ.
“Liberia must thoroughly investigate Tyron Brown’s killing, including whether journalism could have been the motive,” CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal, said. “By acting quickly and transparently to track the killers, Liberia will send a powerful message that it supports press freedom.”
Brown’s belongings, including two cell phones, a memory stick, and wallet, were found on the journalist’s body, Emmanuel Kortu, acting station manager at Super FM, told CPJ.
Kortu said he was not aware of Brown receiving any threats for his work. The journalist reported on Liberia’s election results last year, Kortu said, adding that he was not one of the more critical journalists at the station.
When contacted by CPJ, a member of the Liberian police who is involved in the investigation declined to comment.
Charles Cuffey, president of the Press Union of Liberia, called for the authorities to investigate the murder. Cuffey told CPJ, “The situation is fear among the media…We insist that [the government] bring the perpetrators to justice.”
During a meeting with CPJ in New York on April 16, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Liberia’s minister of information, said the government would investigate Brown’s murder.
Brown’s killing comes amid a recent deterioration in conditions for Liberia’s press. Earlier this month, journalists at Front Page Africa told CPJ they were facing a US$1.8 million civil defamation lawsuit and increased online threats. And, during a March press conference, President George Weah accused Jonathan Paye-Layleh, a Liberian journalist working with the BBC, of being against his government, according to media reports.