Liberia: Journalist who reported on female genital mutilation forced into hiding

Threats have forced Liberian journalist Mae Azango into hiding  after she reported on female genital mutilation (FGM). Azango, who is currently in the United States, faced a backlash after she wrote an article for leading independent daily newspaper FrontPage Africa titled Growing pains: Sande tradition of genital cutting threatens health of Liberian women. The piece forced Liberian officials to declare that the ritual should be stopped, people affiliated with the Sande secret women’s society — which performs FGM — have reportedly threatened the journalist with violence.

Liberia: Reporting on genital mutilation draws threats

A female journalist has been threatened with genital mutilation after exposing the practice in Liberia. Mae Azango, a reporter for the daily newspaper FrontPage Africa and news website New Narratives was forced into hiding after receiving threatening phone-calls, saying “they will catch me and cut me so that will make me shut up”. Azango published an article on Thursday about Liberian tribes practicing female genital mutilation on as many as two out of every three girls in the country. Several people confronted the journalist about the article, and it was widely discussed on radio programmes.

Liberia: Journalist beaten by police

Journalist, Fumbah Kanneh, was attacked and beaten by police while covering an international women’s football match between Liberia and Ghana on 13 February. The police spotted him as he videotaped them manhandling spectators who had invaded the pitch at the end of the match. He was flogged and hit in the mouth with a police baton, and his video camera was damaged.

Liberia: Freedom of Information Act becomes law

Liberia has become the first West African nation to introduce a Freedom of Information Act. In a move welcomed by free expression groups across the country, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signed the new legislation on the 4 October. The law comes after two years of intense lobbying by the Centre of Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) and other members of the Liberia Freedom of Expression Coalition. According to presidential press secretary Cyrus Wleh Badio, the president is to be honoured with an award from the African Editors’ Forum.