All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke

March 3, 2008

Vol 5 No 10

The Truth Shall Set You Free----------The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth---------Exposing human rights abusers





CHRIS BICKERTON:...journalists in the country have been having a tough time. They're been arrested and detained and they complain of continuous harassment and intimidation by the armed forces. Now our correspondent Victor Sylver has gone missing. I asked our West Africa correspondent Elizabeth Blunt what she knew about Victor Sylver's whereabouts:

ELIZABETH BLUNT: Well I don't know anything about his whereabouts. He's been out of touch today, but I've been told, I've been passed messages from other journalists in Freetown that there were crowds of people out looking for him last night - supporters of the regime and they were very threatening and they were trying to find him and threatening to burn down his house and I was told it was only the police coming along that stopped them so I think he may have gone into hiding. There's been a lot of harassment of journalists over the last day or two.

Chris: Any idea what Victor Sylver might have done to annoy people so much that they'd be looking out for him and threatening to burn down his house?

Liz: Well not really. The one thing that was mentioned to me was his report for Focus on Africa yesterday afternoon when he talked about seeing two bodies yesterday as a result of the shelling. I think that was perhaps mistakenly taken to mean that he was saying there were only two bodies when clearly of course a lot more people than that were killed. But that wasn't what he said at all. He simply said that he had seen two bodies, at least himself. So if that is why they were looking for him, then that seems to be a complete misunderstanding.

Chris: Do you understand that there is a sense of paranoia at the moment in Freetown?

Liz: Oh absolutely and its just not affecting journalists. Vigilante groups, young supporters of the regime are going round and they are expecting everybody very openly to say they support the military government, anyone who doesn't come out and say that absolutely clearly and openly is suspected of being in the opposition to them and a traitor to Sierra Leone indeed.

Chris: I believe that another journalist too has been feeling under pressure today?

Liz: Yes, other people's houses have been visited and I think it is particularly difficult for journalists who are heard on the radio locally. Correspondents like Victor of the BBC or the Voice of America, they're much more in the firing line than others because people know them so much better and hear them every day on the radio.

Chris: Our West Africa correspondent, Elizabeth Blunt.

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