Paul Kamara

D.o.b.: 1956

Occupation: Founding editor and publisher of the daily For Di People.

Date of arrest: 10 October 2004

Sentence: Two twenty-four month sentences, to run concurrently. Began serving sentence immediately at Pademba Road Prison, Freetown.

Expires: 4 October 2006 

Trial: Questions have been raised over the impartiality of the presiding judge in the case who apparently made scathing remarks about Kamara during the trial. The charges of “seditious libel” stemmed from For Di People articles published in October 2003 that highlighted a 1967 Commission of Inquiry into fraud allegations concerning the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board, with which the Sierra Leonean president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was then associated. The article claimed that Kabbah was unfit to hold office because he had allegedly been found guilty of fraud by the commission. Excerpts from the Commission’s report were also published. Arrest: Kamara was arrested on 10 October 2003 along with three printing press employees. They were charged on 11 October and bail was set at Le 50 million (approx. US$21,400) each. Unable to pay such a large amount, the four were held in custody at Pademba Road Prison in Freetown. They finally raised bail on 11 November and were released pending further hearings.

Other harassment: On 24 November 2003, heavily armed police reportedly raided the offices of For Di People whilst Kamara was in court. The police confiscated almost all the office equipment including computers, desks and a car.

Background:Kamara (48) had previously been arrested in November 2002 and subsequently served six months on 18 counts of criminal libel for the defamation of a judge. In October 2003 he was ordered to pay US$25,000 in damages plus legal costs in the same case. He has been unable to pay this sum and claims that there were gross irregularities in the court proceedings. The latest prison sentence is a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1562 which calls on the Sierra Leone government to ‘decriminalise press offenses, as other African countries have done’.

Honorary Member of: German, USA West and English PEN.

Released 29 November 2005

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