The year 2005 began with a journalist in prison. During the summer his acting editor at the weekly For di People died from injuries suffered when he was beaten up by henchmen sent by a deputy in the ruling party. At the end of the year, Paul Kamara, the founder of For di People was finally released after spending 14 months in jail. Sierra Leone, which has barely recovered from a horrendous civil war (1991-2002) largely fails to provide its journalists with peaceful working conditions. Not only is the country, under UN supervision, painfully attempting to build a democratic framework, but a cruel law allows journalists to be thrown in prison on the basis of vaguest of accusations. In these conditions, an impoverished and disparate written press has to deal with a society mired in corruption, a heavy legacy of violence and draconian laws.
At yearend there were some signs of hope: President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah said he was ready to reform press law, which if he sticks to his promise could be a first encouraging step towards a genuine improvement in press freedom in Sierra Leone.