Liberia said on Friday it was banning journalists from Ebola clinics, defying media rights campaigners who have warned panicked African governments against “muzzling” reporters.
Government spokesman Isaac Jackson made the announcement as he was questioned on a radio phone-in show about reporters being barred from covering a strike at a Monrovia Ebola treatment unit (ETU).
“Journalists are no longer allowed to enter ETUs. These journalists enter the ETUs and cross red lines,” Jackson, the deputy information minister, told listeners to commercial station Sky FM.
“They violate people’s privacy, take pictures that they will sell to international institutions. We are putting an end to that.”
Journalists had earlier been denied access to the Island Clinic in Monrovia to cover a nationwide “go slow” day of action by healthcare workers demanding risk bonuses for treating Ebola.
The minister said he would insist that journalists report his statements from now on rather than what they saw for themselves.
Sources from global aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), which runs a unit of around 250 beds in Monrovia, said it would be writing to the government to ask to be excluded from the ban.