The persistence of Silence & impunity

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 27, 2012

Ladies & gentlemen

The persistence of Silence & impunity

I write both as a concerned Liberian citizen and the Executive Director for the Foundation for human rights defense,(FOHRD).

From the beginning of the Liberian civil upheaval on December 24, 1989 through Octobor 14, 2003, I clearly remember the heights of evil and human tragedy that unfolded. What happened in Liberia and its neighboring countries in those years cannot be over emphasized.

But the reality remains that signs of the ethnic and tribal component of that crisis, which directly resulted in massacres and other forms of atrocities, have been blatantly ignored for decades.

Despite the 1990 Geneva conventions on the rights of a child, or the 1989 New York convention to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, the parties to the Liberian conflict specifically made women and children targets for various crimes including; rape, use of child soldier, force labor, child trafficking, mass murder etc.

Today, nearly ten (10) years after that war officially ended, thousands of Liberian children roam the streets as orphans with no optimism for the future,while corruption,nepotism,manipulated judiciary system, unconstitutional incarceration,etc,enhanced by the cultures of ‘silence & impunity’ are anti-democratic values approaching pre-war peak level.

Moreover,madam Ellen Johnson Serleaf,once a staunch advocate for equal rights and justice in Liberia,is now president and the voices of dissent are still being silenced in the same fashion as they were before everything spiraled out of control in 1990.

I have a concern that as the timeline for the United Nations mission in Liberia (UNMIL) draws to an end; much more is left to be done if Liberia’s young democracy will survive the test of times. It is a shameful embarrassment that without any knowledge of the heights of corruption and unpatriotic activities taking place under President Serleaf’s watch,the Oslo Nobel committee decided to even consider her as a candidate for the prestigious accolade in 2011.

From FOHRD’s perspective, when all peoples can be treated without any form of social, political ,racial or religious discrimination etc., under the rule of law, when there exists a system that respects human values and those who violate the law are prosecuted in a balanced judiciary system and given a merited reward, then justice and equality exist. Amongst others, the Serleaf administration’s horrible human rights record includes:

 Between April 2006 and August 2008, there were more than ten (10) cases of unconstitutional incarcerations of high profile business men and politicians. Some of the victims of Liberia’s questionable judicial practices include Chawaki Kadouh, the owner of the K&K business corporation, retired general Charles Julu(now deceased), former house speaker George Koukou, retired Colonel Andrew Dorbor etc.

 The 2006 disproportionate use of force at the headquarters of the opposition Congress for democratic change (CDC), in trying to silence the voices of dissent, shots were fired by state security personnels on demonstrators who were chanting anti-government slogans because they felt the election had been marked by fraud.

 The 2011 merciless beating of a protester in fish town, River-gee county upon the orders of President Serleaf for chanting the name of her main opposition leader less than ten yards from her campaign sub-office.

 The detention for more than three weeks without trial of over seventy five(75) inmates, some of whom are juvenile, in Saclepea,Pleebo,Ganta,Paynesville etc, with little or no access to defense attorneys or trial

 The passage of the 2012 national budget that sets aside a significant portion of the country’s finances for politicians and their special interests while civil servants earn less than enough per month to feed their families, the budget violates article 5,Section C of the Liberian constitution which states that; ‘..take steps, by appropriate legislation and executive orders, to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of power as the misuse of government resources, nepotism and all other corrupt practices……

 The administration’s questionable involvement with Russian firm Gazprom and the clandestine activities of the National Oil Company of Liberia, (NOCAL), which is headed by Robert Serleaf, one of the president’s sons.

 Continual widespread corruption, and the cultures of silence and impunity across different levels of government etc.

Astonishingly also, is the fact that President Serleaf and her administration would do nothing to foster the passage of a dual citizenship bill into law, but the President and her sons, close friends and countless officials of her administration do possess dual citizenship.

In view of the above, The Foundation for Human Rights Defense (FOHRD), sees the Ellen administration as a disappointment and calls on all national and international partners including the inter faith community,NDI,Ecowas,Carter center,EU,USAID etc, to re-evaluate their relationship with it and instead consider measures that will hold its officials accountable for the years of corruption,nepotism,and mis-rule.

Marian Zomie Walterson
Programs Coordinator/FOHRD

Torbor Tee Wonokay
Executive Director/FOHRD

© 2012 by The Perspective
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