STAR is still off air in Monrovia, financial and managerial difficulties still prenventing the relaunch of the radio station. Yet, the situation in the country remains tense and fragile. In May,Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in jail by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) after being found guilty of “aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history”.
Judges rejected all mitigating factors. Samoan Judge Richard Lussick, who was presiding over the sentencing, declared that “leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes, not the commission of crimes”.
Taylor’s Defence lawyers immediately announced that they would appeal the sentence. If confirmed, the term would be equivalent to a life sentence, Charles Taylor being 64.
Prosecutors had sought an even longer sentence of 80 years.On top on internal problems, the regional context with Ivory Coast is potentially explosive. As IRIN puts it: "More than a year after the end of the conflict in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire, the Liberian government has pledged to deal once and for all with longstanding complaints of its nationals being party to military operations and serious human rights violations on the other side of its western border.Liberia has been praised for its efforts to deal with an influx of over 200,000 Ivoirian refugees, but has also faced accusations of negligence and incompetence for failing to stop a steady flow of battle-hardened fighters into Ivorian territory.Even with the presence and active support of UNMIL, the Liberian authorities have difficulty policing a porous 700km frontier with Côte d'Ivoire, much of which runs through dense forest. The thinly scattered checkpoints and border controls are outnumbered by dozens of informal crossings.Cross-border ethno-linguistic ties remain strong, particularly between Ivorian Yacouba and Liberian Gio in Liberia's Nimba County, and Ivoirian Guéré and Liberian Krahn in Grand Gedeh.".
Liberia has been on the radar screen with the national elections (presidential and legislative) in October 2011 and the Nobel Prize offered to Ellen Sirleaf, but the attention did not help Liberian media gain the visibility they need to defend their independence and pave the way for their sustainability.
Closed for more than a year now due to lack of funding, Star Radio could not cover the elections, and its staff saw other radio stations being closed by the government, some media openly supporting X or Z candidate, and the Liberian citizens lacking independent information.
Star Radio is still struggling today to find a new governance model with a revamped Executive that will lead the station and create the conditions for it to reopen.
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On 11 October, 2011, Liberia held its second election since the conclusion of the bloody civil war that lasted from 1999 to 2003. The first round of the presidential election featured 16 candidates, including incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “Rain did not deter voters who lined up very early in the morning and kept coming throughout the day to cast their ballots, leading to a high turnout for this important election. », according to IFES. The voting process appeared to be peaceful, orderly and well-organized.
To secure a victory and avoid a second round, the candidate would have to win 50 percent plus 1 of the vote. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced that there will be a runoff election, which would be held on 8 November.
STAR Radio is still off air. Couple of individual donors have supported the radio but not enough to relaunch it before the elections. Its future remains uncertain and precarious.
Since December 2010, STAR Radio has suspended its broadcasting throughout Liberia and on its website. After months and months of tensed and difficult financial crisis, with liquidity’s shortages, delays in the salaries, delays with the suppliers, etc., the staff of the radio, organized in a “Association of the Staff of STAR Radio”, decided to stop working and to address many issues to the radio station’s management and Board.
The Liberian population, the listeners, are the first victims of the suspension of STAR Radio, and many are complaining, wondering what is happening. The situation has led to many rumours about mismanagement, misused of funds, taking over of the radio by the government: all of these are wrong and unfounded. For 6 months now, the Board has been trying to manage the situation by negotiating with the staff and raising money for the re-launch of the station. Despite national elections taking place in October 2011 (presidential and legislative), and the refugees situation from neighbouring Ivory Coast, Liberia is not high on the international community’s radar screen and funding to support the radio station operations (salaries, rent, power, communication, and transportation) in complement of the locally generated revenues from advertising and sponsorships is hard to get.
Global Giving and its individual donors are STAR Radio’s last chance to not close definitively. Time is of essence, all suggestions and support are welcome. Liberia and its people deserve to receive independent information, particularly now that elections time is right at the corner and that no media in Liberia have the mandate to help Liberians make informed choices for their future.
Wednesday (June 15) is Bonus Day, so GlobalGiving is matching donations at 30% all day while the $75,000 in matching funds last.
STAR Radio wins the PUL Award for The Best Radio Station of the Year !
For the second year running, STAR radio has won on July 2010, the PUL (Press Union of Liberia) Award For the Best Radio Station of the Year for its high standard and the professionalism of its news reporting and the relevance of its feature programs.
Not only STAR was chosen as the Best Radio of the Year, but STAR Radio’s reporters Bruce Boweh and Julius Kanubah also retained their awards as Judicial and Legislative Reporters of the year.
Also, Robert Clarke STAR Radio’s Executive Mansion Correspondent was for the first time named newscaster of the year.The journalist of the year went to STAR Radio’s former News Editor and now BBC World Service Trust’s reporter at the Charles Taylor Trial in The Hague Joseph Cheeseman.
On Wednesday October 13, the Liberia Media Center with support from TrustAfrica launched the first in a series of assessments on the state and health of the media sector in Liberia, in the frame of the Media Quality Barometer.
The project targeted five radio stations and nine newspapers including STAR Radio.
STAR radio was ranked 2nd in the general ranking, topping the context ranking due to its high performance on conference and investigation. STAR also obtained the maximum points for County Coverage due to its correspondents strength across Liberia.
Overall scoring and ratings were based on six performance indicators including Diversity, Newsworthiness, Completeness/Overall Quality, Context, Grammar and Structure, and General Layout or Presentation.
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