Paul Kamara

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Paul Kamara
Sierra Leone Minister of Sports
Assumed office
23 December 2010
President Ernest Bai Koroma
Assumed office
Febr
Personal details
Born (1956-08-12) 12 August 1956 (age 59)
Kambia, Sierra Leone
Nationality Sierra Leonean
Residence
Alma mater Fourah Bay College
Profession Journalist
Religion Roman Catholic

Paul Kamara (born 12 August 1956) is a Sierra Leonean journalist, football manager, and cabinet minister.

Background[edit]

Kamara was born on 12 August 1956[1] in Kambia District, Sierra Leone. He is Catholic[2] and a former priest,[3] and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sierra Leone.[2] He is married to Isatu Sidratu Kamara, with whom he has three daughters.[4]

Journalism[edit]

Since 1983, Kamara has served as editor of For Di People, a Krio-language newspaper.[2][5] Kamara has at times been critical of all sides in Sierra Leone's conflicts[6] and has reportedly angered multiple political parties.[2] The citation of the Civil Courage Prize lauded Kamara as a journalist who had "consistently crusaded against corruption and other social ills, championed press freedom, human rights and democratic values in Sierra Leone, despite continual harassment and intimidation".[4]

As a consequence of his journalism, Kamara has been regularly threatened, attacked, and jailed. On 20 February 1996, the first day of a round of elections, Kamara was fired on by soldiers with automatic rifles and wounded in the leg, ostensibly for violating curfew.[6] Though human rights groups have since described the incident as an "assassination attempt",[2] no official inquiry took place.[6] In 1999, three Revolutionary United Front (RUF) officials allegedly assaulted Kamara in the For Di People office following an article which described the "posh life" of military commanders in Freetown.[7] On 25 September 2001, Kamara and six other journalists received anonymous death threats following their criticism of the government's decision to postpone elections.[8] Government spokespeople denied involvement, and accused the journalists of fabricating the threats to win international sympathy.[8]

On 12 November 2002, the Sierra Leone High Court convicted Kamara on 18 counts of criminal libel following a series of articles criticising appeals court judge Tolla Thompson's management of the Sierra Leone Football Association.[9] He was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 4,500 leones (about US$2).[9] He was freed on 11 March, but announced his intention to appeal his conviction on principle to have his conviction expunged from his record.[9]

Kamara has won numerous international press awards for his work. In 1997, he won the London-based International Press Directory's Freedom of the Press award and in 1999, the US-based World Press Review's "International Editor of the Year Award".[2] In 2001, he was awarded the Train Foundation's Civil Courage Prize, which recognises "extraordinary heroes of conscience" and included a cash prize of US$50,000.[4]

2004 libel conviction[edit]

In October 2003, For Di People ran the headline "Speaker of Parliament challenge! Kabbah is a true convict!", referring to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah's 1968 conviction for fraud and suggesting that it was unconstitutional for him to hold office.[10] Kamara was subsequently arrested, and in 2004, was imprisoned on two charges of seditious libel.[11] Equipment was confiscated from For Di People offices, including Kamara's car,[12] and the newspaper was shut down for six months.[11] On 28 July 2005, Kamara's replacement as editor, Harry Yansaneh, died from a beating reportedly ordered by a member of parliament.[13]

BBC News described Kamara's case as sparking "wide public interest with pleas from media rights groups worldwide demanding his release".[11] The Committee to Protect Journalists issued an appeal on Kamara's behalf,[14] as did Reporters Without Borders.[10]

On 30 November 2005, Kamara won an appeal against his conviction and was freed.[11] After his release, he told reporters, "imprisonment has not broken my spirit to publish the truth or stand for the people's right to know".[11]

Ministerial career[edit]

In 1996, Kamara served one month as Secretary of State, Land, Housing and the Environment in the military government of Julius Maada Bio's National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC).[4] When he concluded that the generals had no intention of transitioning to democracy, however, he left the government.[4] Shortly after, he was shot by soldiers and sought medical treatment in London, but returned a year later to oppose the military rule.[4]

On 23 December 2010, Kamara became Sierra Leone's Minister of Employment, Youth and Sports in the cabinet of Ernest Bai Koroma.[15] In 2011, his ministry came into conflict with Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) over the appointment of Swedish coach Lars-Olof Mattsson.[16] The SLFA had pushed for Christian Cole to coach the team instead, culminating in the two coaches naming different squads for a June 2011 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.[16] On 23 May, Kamara announced that the two sides had come to terms and that Mattison would remain the coach.[16]

Football[edit]

Kamara owns a popular football team, the Wellington People F.C.[4] In 2000, he also briefly served as Team Manager of the national football team, the Leone Stars.[2][17] During his tenure, he reportedly came into conflict with head coach Abdulai Garincha.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abu B. Shaw (31 December 2005). "Sierra Leone: Paul Kamara’s New Mission". The Patriotic Vanguard. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Paul Kamara, 2001 Honoree". civilcourageprize.org. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Yves Sorokobi (15 August 2002). "Sierra Leone Report: Identity Crisis". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Prize of $50,000 to Honor Civil Courage Awarded to Paul Kamara of Sierra Leone for Bravery Publishing the Truth in that War-Torn Country". civilcourageprize.org. 13 October 2001. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Howard W. French (9 October 1995). "Freetown Journal: In Sierra Leone, Darkness, Not Diamonds' Dazzle". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "Sierra Leone: Towards a Future Founded on Human Rights". Amnesty International. 25 September 1996. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Attacks on the Press 1999: Sierra Leone". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2000. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Seven journalists threatened with assassination". Committee to Protect Journalists. 25 September 2001. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c "Prominent Sierra Leonean journalist released". Committee to Protect Journalists. 11 March 2003. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  10. ^ a b ""For Di People" editor Paul Kamara freed after 14 months in prison". ifex.org. 30 November 2005. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Jailed S Leone journalist freed". BBC News. 30 November 2005. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Police seize newspaper's equipment". Committee to Protect Journalists. 24 November 2003. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "After a year in jail, editor freed in Sierra Leone". Committee to Protect Journalists. 30 November 2005. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Ann Cooper (6 October 2004). "CPJ condemns editor's prison sentence". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  15. ^ Augustine Samba (24 December 2010). "In Sierra Leone, Parliament Approves Paul Kamara, Others". Awareness Times. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c Mohamed Fajah Barrie (23 May 2011). "Swede Mattsson stays as Sierra Leone coach". BBC News. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  17. ^ "Disgrace!!". The Pool Newspaper. 12 July 2000. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "Dangerous Signals...". The Pool Newspaper. 31 March 2000. Retrieved 29 May 2011.