US Govt’s Axe Falls On PYJ -Places Sanction On Him For Corruption, human rights abuse

The United States Government through its Treasury Department, yesterday, Thursday, December 9, 2021, took a major decision in its fight against corruption when it designated Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, 16 other persons and a number of entities globally under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Act. The actions against Senator Johnson and others coincided with the observance of this year’s edition of the International Anti-Corruption Day.

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which as enacted in 2016 allows the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world

According to a press release from the US Embassy in Monrovia today, December 9, 2021, “International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually on December 9 since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on October 31, 2003 to raise public awareness for anti-corruption initiatives. There are currently 187 States party to the UNCAC. The release added that in addition to sending a message against corrupt behavior, the US Treasury Department uses its tools to increase transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. With these designations, the Treasury encourages all governments to implement anti-corruption reforms to address vulnerabilities.

“Today also marks the official start of the Summit for Democracy, which highlights corruption as one of the three areas most critical for democracies to address. President Joseph R. Biden said, in his June 2021 action establishing the fight against corruption as a core national security interest, that “Corruption corrodes public trust; hobbles effective governance; distorts markets and equitable access to services; undercuts development efforts; contributes to national fragility, extremism, and migration; and provides authoritarian leaders a means to undermine democracies worldwide. When leaders steal from their nations’ citizens or oligarchs flout the rule of law, economic growth slows, inequality widens, and trust in government plummets.”

“The U.S. Mission in Liberia has long reported on the pervasiveness of corruption within the Government of Liberia, including in the annual Human Rights Report. Organizations such as Transparency International also score Liberia very poorly in terms of corruption. But more than that, Liberian Government officials and citizens themselves regularly report on corrupt government activities that reach across all sectors of governance and society. No government is free from corruption, but no government can improve its democracy without simultaneously attacking corruption, and that effort must start at the very top, both in word and in deed”, the release said.

In taking the decision, the United States Government described Senator Prince Yormie Johnson as a former warlord and current member of the Liberian Senate and was a former Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs. The release also mentioned about how he was responsible for the murder of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe and being named in the Truth and Reconciliation Report as having committed atrocities during the country’s first civil war.

“As a Senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants. The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars. Additionally, Johnson receives an undeserved salary from the GOL as a salaried intelligence “source” yet he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting to the GOL; Johnson is reportedly being paid in order to maintain domestic stability. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money.

“Johnson is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery”, the release concluded.

This latest development against Senator Johnson did not come as a surprise to many Liberians as the United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia had protested against the re-election of Senator Johnson as the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs early this year for being insensitive to the role he played during the brutal civil war where he has been accused of alleged war crimes against humanity. He was said to have been forced to relinquish the position after the US Government piled pressure both on him and his colleagues in the Senate.

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