Liberia: A role for Media in Truth and Reconciliation
“Without UNESCO, it simply would not have been possible for the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) to look at the role that media played in our civil conflict.”
- Commissioner Massa Washington, Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Over three days in October 2008, the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) examined media reporting during Liberia’s civil conflict, which ended in 2003 with a death toll estimated at 250,000.
The TRC examined testimony on how the media impacted the conflict generally, the level and content of coverage, ethical issues underpinning media coverage, the challenges faced by the media, and finally, lessons learnt.
Media plays a vital role in conflict and post-conflict situations. In Liberia, the media had, at times, acted as a propaganda tool. At other times, the media reported objective and important information, and courageous individuals put their lives on the line in defense of freedom of expression and for the people of Liberia. Many journalists were killed, harassed or forced to flee their country during the civil conflict.
UNESCO made these hearings possible by helping to bring five prominent Liberian journalists back to Monrovia to testify. UNESCO also supported a three-day workshop for Liberian reporters, which further explored the role of media in conflict and post-conflict situations, including how to professionally and objectively report on the TRC and its outcomes.