Statement in support of Sierra-Leone journalist Chernoh Bah

CiFAR stands with the CPJ (Commitee to Protect Journalists) in solidarity with our former “Investigate West Africa” trainee Chernoh Alpha Bah. As an investigative journalist, Chernoh has been facing ongoing legal and physical threats linked to his work as an investigative journalist, that are still continuing as we’re publishing this post.

Since at least May 2022, Chernoh has been the subject of allegations of treason from Sierra-Leone government officials and has been the target of active online harassment, including death threats, from government supporters. “These physical threats are still going on as we speak”, reports the journalist.

According to him, this harassment follows a series of publications through his media: Africanist Press, which he runs from the US, regarding unexplained wealth reports on Sierra Leonean government officials, including current president Julius Maada Bio and his spouse, who have allegedly spent 7.89 billion leones ($US 615,000) of public funds on personal shopping, according to one of the reports.

As the CPJ statement reads: “Sierra Leonean authorities should cease their harassment of the Africanist Press and must investigate the death threats against its publisher, Chernoh Alpha Bah, instead of trying to censor him,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, from New York. “Allegations of treason and claims that journalism threatens national peace are dangerous tools too often wielded by authorities against the press and can have a chilling effect on press freedom.”

Despite being based in the US, from where he runs Africanist Press, Cheroh Bah believes remote Sierra-Leone government supporters could target him abroad and execute their threats.

We’re urging Sierra-Leone authorities, freedom of press defenders and advocates, as well as international networks of investigative journalists, to do anything in their power to bring an end to the legal and physical threats targeting journalist Chernoh Bah.