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Dubawa, West Africa’s fact-checking body, draws high praises at Sierra Leone Launch

By Caroline Anipah and Alie Tarawale

The government of Sierra Leone Tuesday in Freetown gave a full-throated support for expanded freedom of the media in the sub-region, stressing that journalism is the oxygen of democracy, and that freedom of expression has been the cue for all positive revolutions in the world.

This view was advanced by the Minister of Information, Mohamed Swarray, while speaking at the official launch of Dubawa, West Africa’s leading fact-checking organisation for stemming the spread of misinformation and disinformation and for the amplification of truth in public policy, public health and the media.

The minister, speaking at the Country Lodge Hotel, venue of the launch, said the awareness of the central role of media freedom as a “condition for a thriving democracy is what led the current Sierra Leonean administration to push for the repeal, last year, of the 1965 Criminal defamation law in the country; to welcome the decision of the Sierra Leonean Association of Journalists [SLAJ] to lead on the peer regulation of the media; and for the government to pass a Right to Information law” that opened up public information in the purview of government to citizen’s access and scrutiny.

Mr Swarray then saluted the vision of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative journalism, PTCIJ, for opening its office in Sierra Leone saying “the government of Sierra Leone welcomes you, assuring you of an enduring partnership, and will relentlessly support you,” adding that Dubawa’s entry into the Sierra Leonean media space bode well for sanitizing the growing wave of fake news on the crest of a fourth industrial revolution that has democratized mobile telephony and access to digital platforms, and “with our growing youthful population.”

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Tip of The Week

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There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

CLAIM: WhatsApp Message announces Ewedu as wonder cure for multiple illnesses.

SOURCE: WhatsApp

A WhatsApp message, which has been forwarded many times claims that the Ewedu leaves are medicinal and are potent in the treatment of the following illnesses: Stomach Ulcers, Low Libido, Dizziness, Cancers, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Eyes Problems, Liver Diseases, Kidney Diseases, Low Energy etc.

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Over time, fact checkers have had to debunk different claims on the potency of Ewedu in curing certain diseases.  Hence, Dubawa advises that readers should be careful when browsing health-related content as it is risky to trust online messages without conducting proper research. 

Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Who is the source’s source? Find out the veracity of all the listed claims. 

What you should do: Verify before sharing and confirm before investing. 

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