The Liberia Law Society (LLS), a local law and human rights institution, has critically been reviewing situations of human rights excesses in Liberia, which the society said have been taking place in the full view of Liberia international partners some of whom have remained mute, others complicit, while others actively involved. Saying some of those actively involved have not been seen establishing pre-conditions for their involvement but rather have appeared to offer a carte blanche to the Government and condone their behavior, even where such actions violate international laws. The LLS says it supports what it calls the position of the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC) and the Human Rights Platform as well as the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) that the alleged involvement of former ex-generals in the recent January 6th Protest should not be taken lightly; The ANALYST reports.
The Liberia Law Society of Human Rights Activist Samuel Kofi Woods declares as unwarranted, wrong, unacceptable and unnecessary the use of force against peaceful protesters on January 6, 2020 and declares that this signals a reversal in the minimum gains made in consolidating our democratic culture and peace.
Although a position statement issued over the weekend did not state the position of the Independent Human Rights Commission, The Human Rights Platform and the Inter-Religious Council, the Liberia Law Society intoned, “No government must believe that economic progress and infrastructural development are substitutes for the full enjoyment and happiness of its citizens’ desire to live in dignity, respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law, equality before the law and full adherence to the dictates of the constitution.”
The Liberia Law Society said history has shown that mere economic development without a human face is temporary and bound to implode, it maintains that the tragic lessons of history are unequivocal in this regard.
“The LLS notes the tragic accounts of alleged human rights violations that have not been investigated, unsolved mysteries and impunity since this government assumed leadership of the State in January 2018,” the Liberia Law Society averred.
The group recounted the mysterious death of Matthew Innis from the Central Bank of Liberia and others; the countless abuse of women and girls (Rape, sexually deviant behavior, sexual assault, violent abuse of our youths). Young girls have become sexual pawns in an abyss of impunity, wealth and power; and electoral -related violence for instance in Montserrado County District 13 & 15 which the group said have not been investigated while no one has at least been held responsible.
LLS catalogued Cases of violence
Liberia Law Society also catalogued violence and threats against individuals citing the case of Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah who his home the society said was shot into with various attacks reported on him and his family, which cased have not been investigated with no one held responsible.
The law society also pointed to the denial of free movement of Yekeh’s family when they were prevented from traveling, along with many others including members of the Council of Patriots and other political parties, and the forced exile of Jestina Taylor which the group said are all cases in point.
The Liberia Law Society made reference to other eight cases of human rights violation including what the group referred to as, “Executive Tyranny & Judicial subordination: Impeachment of Associate Kabineh Ja’neh and the replacement of Judge Ernest Bana (Magistrate Bana was replaced after presiding and announcing his ruling in the case involving Roots FM); Use of Force against students of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) on October 15, 2019 protesting the denial of education; the Question of the War Crimes Court: This neglect has engendered an attitude of complete disregard for the respect of the rule of law; the lack of action on the 25 million mop-up scandal; the 16 billion Liberian Dollars Scam; and the Kingsville Killing of peaceful and unarmed protesters by the Liberian National Police.
Other cases referenced bordered on Freedom of the Press and Expression where they group named the violent attack on Henry Costa of the Council of Patriots as well as the violent break into the offices of the Roots FM and other radio stations.
The Henry Costa Laissez Passez Fiasco, the group said provides ample evidence of why political exiles might be on the increase signaling the rise of totalitarianism in Liberia. “In addition, the question of a violation of the right to free movement, well-founded fear, and other gross breaches of international human rights laws will now unfortunately become associated with the credentials of the Liberian Government,” the Liberia Law Society intimated.
On this issue of the right to free movement, the Law Society hails the position of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone Civil Society Organizations, Liberian Civil Society Organizations and all who worked to ensure that the rights of Henry Costa were protected and international human rights laws upheld.
“We hope that similar advocacy and collaboration will become the hallmark that prevents dictators from prevailing. The LLS proposes a Mano River Union Civil Society Meeting to further consolidate and re-enforce the great lessons associated with this experience,” the group said.
The Law Society believes that an end to the culture of impunity, the supremacy of the rule of law and human dignity requires greater attention and made some recommends which among other things indicate call for a full audit of all sectors of the Liberian Government (Legislature, judiciary & Executive).
“The integrity of the Government of Liberia is in question since a full audit of its various sectors has not been conducted in the face of raging suspicion by the public. The completion of these audits during the period of this administration and the necessary action will go a long way in promoting transparency and accountability;” the Liberia Law Society said, adding a national conversation and/or dialogue that promote national reconciliation and justice to the list of requirement.
The Government continues to exhibit its unwillingness to dialogue and promote national reconciliation. All and any attempts are being viewed as hungry people in search of jobs rather than a genuine process to reconcile the country. We are attempting to roll back the wheels of reconciliation and return Liberia to its ugly past of division, extra-judicial killings, nepotism, rampant corruption, divisive politics, state criminalization, etc.
The also recommended a full investigation into the role of former ex-generals and combatants who by their open admission and display of the brazen remobilization of former combatants allegedly associated with our security forces; noting that this is a violation of the peace agreement and a deadly reminder of the Liberian Civil War.
“Their reemergence as paramilitary units represent a chilling reminder of the human rights abuses and reign of terror their actions imposed on the Liberian People and Nation. This action by the Liberian Government is also forcing victims to relive the trauma of their horrific experiences during the war. The Guarantors of our peace especially ECOWAS have remained mute on this important development,” the group said.
The Statement by the Liberia Law Society said when peaceful citizens are subjected to dehumanizing treatments, when human rights violations increase, when exiles swell, when a Vice President agonize for deserved and legal benefits and privileges, these are signs of Early Warnings and potential conflict for which the people of Liberia must act together and with urgency, the statement added.
Further recommending, the Liberia Law Society said the report by the Independent Human Rights Commission on the alleged involvement of former ex-generals in the recent January 6th Protest should not be taken lightly. It must be thoroughly investigated and actions taken to deal with this issue within the framework of both domestic and international laws.
Review of declaration of assets regime
The Liberia Law Society also called for the review of the declaration and verification of assets regime, saying some officials old and new have not completed and fully complied with the Asset declaration process and even where they have done so, these assets have not been truthfully verified. “Personal acquisition of wealth and the Code of Conduct have all been thrashed,” the LLS noted, saying The Code of Conduct must be revived.”
In this vein, the Liberia Law Society group called for support to integrity institutions is necessary and urgent.
“In 2018, the Government announced the review of all concession agreements ratified by the previous administration and a committee was announced to address this challenge. Liberians have yet to appreciate the lessons learnt from issues surrounding how our natural resources were negotiated. In the face of this, the Government of Liberia has decided to commence new bid rounds for oil blocks,” the group observed.
The LLS accentuated that the past lessons would have helped our country understand the gaps, understand how distributive justice may have been dispensed and how wealth creation can be assured. The group further said Liberians need to know what happened to the concession review exercise as well as the steps put in place to avert experiences of the past.
Some partners remained mute
On the role of the International Community and Partners, the Liberia Law society said some sectors of the International Community have remained mute, others complicit, while others actively involved.
“Some of those actively involved have not been seen establishing pre-conditions for their involvement but have appeared to offer a carte blanche to this Government and condone their behavior, even where such actions violate international laws.
“More disturbing is the fact that some have stoop to the temptation of being anointed the De Facto Governors of Liberia issuing orders, setting standards for the exercise of constitutional prerogatives and in some cases issuing edits and parameters on how rights may be proscribed and/or exercised,” the LLS indicated in their statement.
“This is an affront to international human rights laws and those involved will answer someday for their complicity in the exploitation and any violations of the rights of the Liberian People,” the group said.
“While we appreciate the international community and development partners for accompanying us on our long march to peace and development, there can be no compromise of some cardinal principles of human rights and justice. These principles are also critical for economic growth and development. They are mutually complimentary not exclusive,” the LLS warned.
Legislature shares the blame
The Liberia Law Society pointed out that the legislature shares the blame for the current state of affairs of our country. “They have been complicit with the executive abdicating their responsibilities and cowing in to the neglect of the Liberian People. All matters of human rights violations and the remobilization of former combatants and ex generals of warring factions must be investigated.”
Concerning dutiful and loyal citizenship, the Liberia Law Society indicated that all dutiful and loyal citizens must eschew opportunism, nepotism, ethnicity, patronage and violence. “We must continue to advocate for respect for the rule of law. The Law Society is prepared assist those who are willing to use the law as a vehicle to advance change in our society,” the group said.
The Law Society will continue to support the need to establish the war crimes court to promote accountability and end the culture of impunity in Liberia. It will use all other regional and international avenues and judicial mechanisms to pursue this goal.
The Law Society said it will use any and all regional and international legal avenues to guarantee redress for human rights violations and pledge to work with other organizations to achieve this objective.
The Law Society pledges to work with all Civil Society Organizations, Religious, human rights and other organizations to support peace, good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The Law Society then advised that only the dull and ignorant will repeat and justify the wrongs of history. It is the wise that will seek to correct them and take radical measures to change. “We will continue to stand and work in Liberia consistent with our pledge to support and aid in the respect for the rule of law, human dignity and human rights,” the Liberia Law Society concluded in its statement.