In case you were paying close attention, you may have noticed that Sierra Leone suddenly removed 500 dead people from their country's tally Sunday. (Did those 500 people not die? Were they resurrected? Undead? Zombified? The mind boggles.) Now, another lesson on why things in West Africa are worse than you can imagine, and worse than we can know.
When the news is bad, they simply arrest the messenger:
FREETOWN (NYT) -- In what reporters in Sierra Leone denounced as an abuse of the government’s emergency powers to deal with the spread of Ebola, one of the country’s most prominent broadcast journalists was detained this week after he devoted a segment of his popular radio program to a critical discussion of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s handling of the outbreak.The radio host, David Tam-Baryoh, was arrested on Monday following a broadcast of his weekly program “Monologue” on the independent station Citizen FM. Listeners in Freetown told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Saturday’s episode was interrupted after Mr. Tam-Baryoh interviewed an opposition spokesman who criticized the president’s response to the Ebola crisis and his supposed interest in seeking a third term in office.According to Umaru Fofana, who reports for the BBC and the Freetown news site Politico, a senior police official said that Mr. Tam-Baryoh was arrested as a result of “an executive order signed by his excellency the president.” The same officer said that the detention would last “until it pleases his excellency” to release the reporter.
Mohamed Massaquoi, a local newspaper editor who is the president of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union, denounced the arrest as an abuse of the president’s powers. In an interview with Daniel Finnan of Radio France International, he said, “We are under health emergency, we are not under public emergency.”
The arrest was front-page news in Sierra Leone. Ms. Sylvia Blyden, a former close adviser to the president who resigned last month, has also criticized the health ministry, saying it underreported cases of Ebola.