Washington, D.C., Jan 12, 2019: Campaigner for Change International Condemns the Liberian National Police Use of Disproportionate Force Against Peaceful Protesters; Calls on International Justice Groups to Increase Monitoring of the Human and Political Rights Situation in Liberia.
Campaigner for Change International condemns the Liberian National Police for the use of tear gas and water cannon containing boiling water on peaceful protestors in Liberia. Thousands of protesters had gathered, under the auspices of the Council of Patriot, at the seat of the Liberian Presidency and the National Legislature on January 6, 2020, to decry increasing economic hardship, and to demand press freedom, transparency, and accountability.
The Police action was a reckless attack on civil liberty, authorized directly by President Weah. On June 6, 2019, President Weah publicly vowed that any Liberian who “insults” him will never walk in the streets freely. Given that the unprovoked police action was preceded by protesters’ unceasing condemnation of the President for his continuous cover-up of widespread corruption, misuse of public office, and vehement opposition to making his assets public, CfCI is certain that the onslaught on peaceful protesters was a partial fulfillment of the President’s callous declaration against civil liberty.
President Weah and his team of mostly ineffectual sycophants are dearth of ideas to govern the state to prosperity but have been up to the tasks in illegally stockpile the country’s wealth for their personal benefits. Their collective incompetence in addressing the country’s challenges and their unquenchable desire for illegal wealth have led them to resolve to use state security, and former warlords to suppress civil liberty and eliminate opposition figures, who speak out against their pillaging of the state. Campaigner for Change International is deeply worried about the deteriorating state of the Liberian economy, but more so about the safety of Liberians under the fast-developing despotic posture of Weah. We, therefore, call on International Justice Groups, Frontline Defenders, Protect Defenders, Association of Human Rights Defenders, and Human Rights Watch to increase their surveillance in monitoring the human rights situation in Liberia for possible indictment of the Liberian President and any of his officials associated with human rights abuses.
CfCI uses this medium to join other rights and justice campaigners to again demand President Weah to make public his assets and to ensure all public officials act similarly. The publication of the Presidents’ assets remains the singular most significant action that is needed to address public doubt over how he initiated and completed the construction of an estate containing about thirty (30) duplexes, sport and recreation facilities, and gymnasium in less than a year of his presidency. The clarification of how the President obtained these properties has become increasingly important in the wake of his refusal to publish an investigative report of a USD 25M liquidity mop-up exercise that later turned out to be a fraud. The President’s refusal to prosecute the former Governor of the Central Bank, Nathaniel Patray, and other junior staff members that previous investigative reports linked to the looting of cash from Liberia’s Central Bank is another reason why he must make public the assets and liabilities he owned before becoming President.
Besides CfCI’s demand for political rights, civil liberty, and financial accountability, we are apprehensive about the increasing wave of violence against women and girls since Weah’s Presidency. The Gender Advocacy Unit of CfCI has recorded at least fourteen (14) deaths allegedly caused either by rape or other forms of gender-based violence. Sadly, the families that painfully mourn the deaths of these victims have not been served justice, but the alleged perpetrators, some of whom reportedly have closed link to the President and other senior officials of his government, remain unpunished. CfCI’s Gender office has remained seized of these cases and is independently compiling fresh evidence that will support the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators .
Besides CfCI concerns about the current gender-based violence cases, the organization is deeply worried about the President’s overall approach and commitment to protecting the rights of women and children. This deep concern stems from the Presidents’ ill-treatment of one of his children. In 2016, as Senator at the Liberian Senate, Weah lied to a Newton County court in Georgia that he earned only 1,090 USD when he indeed earned at least 12,000USD monthly. He was facing charges for allegedly deserting his female child born out of wedlock and elected to reduce his monthly income to deny the child of her fair share.
The President’s past deliberate attempts to deny a female child of her entitlement and his current thoughtless posture towards protecting the rights of women and children in Liberia summon the need for increased advocacy for Liberian women and girls, including an unrelenting push for the prosecution of alleged perpetrators and support for survivals. To this end, CfCI, thorough its Liberia Gender Project (LGP) will expand its network and collaboration with other gender focused grassroots organizations and individuals in Liberia. This new network will begin series of legal and social awareness protection programs for Liberian women and girls. CfCI’s Gender Coordinator will coordinate the activities of the new network and maximize the strengths of each constituent member to help fast-track ongoing work under the Liberia Gender Project. The Liberia Gender Project is documenting gender-based violence (including female genital mutilation and forced marriage) that remain shielded under President George Administration, either by family members of victims, communities, or powerful and influential political and economic actors in Liberia.