Joint Security Forces and Press Union sign SOPs for electoral processes
December 5, 2022
The relationship between the media and law enforcement has always been a delicate one. But they both play critical roles in ensuring peaceful, transparent, and credible elections.
“We cannot talk about the sustaining peace agenda, without talking about the critical role the media has to play in that process,” said Ms. Gwendolyn S. Meyer, the Executive Director of Messengers of Peace-Liberia.
To ensure the relationship between security forces and journalists remains positive, the two parties, supported by UNDP and its partners, have met in three nation-wide conferences in 2020 and 2021facilitated by the National Elections Commission (NEC), and Peace building Office (PBO) to develop Standard Operating Procedures.
“Liberians are blessed to have a free media. It is something you don’t take for granted. Press freedom does not exist everywhere. Liberia is also blessed to have peace and stability. Our aim is to support the country maintain its free media, peace, and stability,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Stephen Rodriquez.
The SOPs were signed on November 28, 2022, following a round table attended by the joint security forces, the media, and civil society representatives in October.
“The signing of the media and security forces SOPs is a significant milestone, as its role of promoting peaceful elections is critical to sustaining peace and democracy in Liberia,” said the acting head of USAID, Jim Wright.
The Standard Operating Procedures will provide guidance on the roles, responsibilities, and mandates of law enforcement officers and journalists on election day, throughout other electoral activities, particularly during the campaign period, and beyond.
The SOPs will facilitate communication between the joint security forces and journalists, as well as clarify areas of conflict-sensitive reporting and access to information rights, and the limitations.
They are further intended to highlight and strengthen the role of female journalists and female law enforcement officers in preventing electoral violence and building peace.
“These Standard Operating Procedures should be signed into our own concept of operations. We want to see execution,’ urged the Chief of Staff of the Liberian Armed Forces, Major General Prince C. Johnson III
“The signing of the SOPs is not the end of the road. Now is the time to hold the parties accountable to the commitment they have made,” encouraged Nikolina Stalhand, a representative from the Swedish Embassy.
Inclusion, civic engagement, credible and peaceful electoral and democratic processes, strong, just, and responsive institutions are at the core of UNDP’s assistance to the Government and people of Liberia. With support from Sweden and Ireland, the UN Peace building Fund, and in collaboration with UN Women, Inter-news, EU, USAID, and other partners, the SOPs will now be disseminated, and awareness raised on them nation-wide.