Paul Kamara

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Paul Kamara "is the editor of the widely respected For Di People newspaper and Chairman of the National League for Human Rights in Sierra Leone. Despite continual harassment and intimidation, For Di People has consistently crusaded against corruption and other social ills, and championed freedom of the press, human rights, and democratic values in Sierra Leone.

"Paul Kamara was born on 12 August 1956 in the District of Kambia, northern Sierra Leone. A Catholic, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fourah Bay College of the University of Sierra Leone, and a senior diploma in journalism from the Thomson Foundation in London. He has been the editor of the For Di People newspaper since 1983. He is President of the Association of Independent Journalists, Chairman of the National League for Human Rights, and was briefly manager of the Sierra Leone National football team. He served as Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and in 1996, as Secretary of State, Lands, Housing and the Environment, in the transitional government that brought multi-party democracy to his country.

"In 1997, Kamara won the London International Press Directory Freedom of the Press award, and in 1999 the US-based World Press Review International Editor of the Year Award. His work has been supported over the last decade by organizations ranging from UNESCO, the National Endowment for Democracy and the French Reporters Sans Frontieres.

"Kamara has been detained by various regimes and at times his newspaper has been banned. In 1996 there was an attempt to assassinate him, because of his demands for multi-party elections. In October 2004 Kamara was sentenced to two years in prison stemming from October 2003 articles that criticized the President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The court also recommended that For Di People be banned for six months. He was released in November 2005 after a long court battle and pressure from the international community. His colleague, Deputy Editor Harry Yasaneh, died from injuries suffered by a beating from government strongmen. Mr. Kamara continues his struggle to bring a free press and justice to the Sierra Leone." [1]

"Mr. Kamara's paper and individual crusade to restore democracy to Sierra Leone continue. His work has been supported over the last decade by organizations ranging from UNESCO, the National Endowment for Democracy (which gave Mr. Kamara an offset printing machine for his paper), and the French Reporters Sans Frontières. The London-based International Press Directory awarded For Di People its Freedom of the Press Award in 1997, the first paper in the entire African continent to be so honored for being "at the forefront of the popular campaign to restore democracy in March 1996."" [2]

"We are writing on behalf of the International Press Institute (IPI) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), to call for the repeal of Sierra Leone's seditious libel law under which Paul Kamara, editor of For Di People, is currently imprisoned.
"In October 2004, Mr Kamara, editor and publisher of the independent daily For Di People, was convicted on two counts of seditious libel for articles that appeared in his newspaper focusing on a 1967 Commission of Inquiry, which reportedly implicated you in the embezzlement of public funds. He was sentenced to two concurrent prison terms, of two years each, and has spent much of his sentence in solitary confinement." [3]

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  1. Previous Recipients, World Press Review, accessed January 8, 2009.