The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has termed as unfortunate the recent action by some officers of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) reportedly acting on the order of President George Manneh Weah to prevent the family of Montserrado County District #-10 Representative, Yekeh Kolubah, from traveling out of the country.
On Saturday, July 13, 2019, it was reported in Monrovia that immigration officers deployed at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) obstructed Rep. Kolubah’s wife, Georgetta Kolubah, and his six children from boarding a flight to Accra, Ghana where they were destined for a vacation trip. Reportedly the officers also, confiscated the family’s travel documents, luggage; and the baby formulas for Rep. Kolubah’s twins.
According to Mrs. Kolubah, she and her children usually travel abroad for vacation without any infringement but she was amazed when the immigration officers prevented them from departing the country because of what the officers and the Liberian government referred to as enforcement of an anti-human trafficking regulation.
The Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) in a recent press release claimed the officers’ decision to stop Mrs. Kolubah and the children from traveling to Ghana was predicated on her reported failure to “prove that the children were hers”. Even though her husband Rep. Kolubah was at the Airport and he confirmed that he was aware of his wife and children’s planned trip to Accra, the immigration officers acting on an alleged directive from President Weah declined to allow the Lawmaker’s wife and children to depart Liberia.
ALJA in a press release issued on July 15, 2019, condemned in the strongest term the immigration officers’ action and President Weah’s reported directive. The Association says the flimsy explanation provided by the immigration authority and the Liberian government regarding the unwarranted public humiliation, mental anguish and embarrassment suffered by Mrs. Kolubah and her children is cheap; and it has no legal basis.
ALJA maintains the immigration officers’ action and the President alleged linked to the obstruction violate Article-13 of the 1986 Liberian constitution, which grants all Liberians and legal residents of the country fundamental human rights, which include freedom of movement. ALJA citing the constitutional provision asserts Liberians and legal residents of the country have the freedom to enter, leave, and travel throughout the country anytime provided they have not committed any crime and there is no trouble in any part of the country that jeopardizes their safety.
The Americas based Liberian Journalists say the decision by the Liberian government to obstruct the Kolubah family’s freedom of movement and confiscate their travel documents, luggage and the baby formulas for the twins without any legal justification are tantamount to brazen harassment and witch hunt. The Association states the bogus justification provided by the government for its action is disturbing and it shows the extent to which it would go to target its perceived critics and enemies.
The Association says the unfortunate event of last Saturday is a continuation of the Weah administration’s repeated and unwarranted harassment of Rep. Kolubah and his family because for his vocal stance against the government and the President for poor governance and the mismanagement of Liberia’s wealth.
ALJA says the officers’ action and Mr. Weah’s alleged involvement in the prevention of the Kolubah family from traveling outside Liberia are reminiscent of Liberia’s ugly past. The Association says such actions have the proclivity of undermining the prevailing peace and stability in the country.
Meanwhile, ALJA is calling on President Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) administration to eschew acts that tend to polarize Liberians along tribal and party lines. The Association states Liberia is neither a personal property of the President nor the ruling CDC.
The Associations asserts Liberia belongs to all Liberians regardless of tribal or political affiliations; and the CDC government must put to an immediate end to its divisive style of leadership by adhering to the rule of law.