MONROVIA : The umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country, the Liberia National Bar Association has announced that its President, Cllr. Sylvester D. Rennie has departed the country for a weeklong international conference being hosted by the Economic Community Court of Justice in Banjul, Gambia which is being organized under the theme, “ECOWAS Zero Tolerance for Constitutional Change of Government” and will bring together jurists, scholars and other stakeholders from the international agencies of ECOWAS and member states of the community.
According to a press release from the LNBA yesterday under the signature of Cllr. Bornor M. Varmah, National Secretary General, the relevance of the theme of the conference cannot be overemphasized as it focuses on the need for participatory democracy and constitutional order in all ECOWAS member states, and in particular on the ECOWAS policy of Zero Tolerance for Unconstitutional Change of Government.
The release further said that following the civil war in Liberia which began in 1989, and which later spread to Sierra Leone, the Authority of Heads of State and government declared their adherence to certain principles, in order to enhance the prospects of advancing “economic cooperation and integration in a political environment of peace, security and stability” in addition to pleading to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in all their plenitude, the Heads of State, among others, declare their determination to consult effort to promote democracy in the sub-region on the basis of political pluralism and respect for fundamental human rights as embodied in universally recognized instruments on human rights and all the African charter on Human and People’s Rights.
In another development, the LNBA condemned “the attack on the normal worship service at the Christ Chapel Church of Senator Prince Y. Johnson on Sunday, May 21, 2023 by men believed to be partisans of both the NPP and CDC youth wings”. The LNBA says this is outrageous and a pure act of provocation to undermine the peace of the country, adding that it is “utterly dismayed over such cruel act of violence, which has repeatedly marred the political landscape and gravely threatens the civil liberty, freedom of expression, and association guaranteed under the 1986 constitution.
The statement said “these attacks are intended to harass and intimidate prominent citizens and members of the public in the months leading to the upcoming elections and could have a chilling effect throughout the country”
“The LNBA seriously cautions the Liberian government to take all necessary steps to prevent acts of motivated violence and refrain from all inflammatory actions that could incite similar attacks or deter people from enjoying their civil liberties ahead of the crucial 2023 elections. The Bar assures all of its commitments to fully cooperate with relevant actors to keep the peace by ensuring that the Liberian democracy is kept afloat. The Bar says the Liberian government is under obligation by law to protect lives and properties and must ensure that the needful is done consistent with article 20(a) which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provision laid down in the 1986 constitution in accordance with due process.
The statement from the LNBA is calling on the Liberian government to immediately and unconditionally launch a thorough independent and impartial investigation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials before a court of competent jurisdiction. The LNBA warns that these reckless acts by anti-peace elements must not be treated as business as usual as it is only the adherence to the principle of the rule of law that guarantees the peaceful co-existence of all Liberians.
The LNBA then called on ECOWAS, AU, and the United States government to not sit by to let Liberia degenerate into conflict, especially ahead of a crucial election this year. It called for monitoring the actions of anti-democratic elements and the immediate imposition of sanctions and other measures to jealously protect the peace of the country.