The Normal Liberian Excuse

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
May 2, 2013

In response to the U S state department’s Human Rights reports on Liberia in which the Johnson-Sirleaf government was indicted for the lack of transparency and impunity on the part of corruption officials, the attorney general of Liberia said “ I have not seen the report”. Is this new? No, this is what they always say in addition to “considering we are post conflict, we are doing well”. The Attorney General went on to say “our people know where we were and what we have done and where we are and that well-meaning Liberians and our foreign partners” know we are improving. This is what you get from the chief protector of public and private property as well as public safety when one of the government’s prime benefactors, the U S charges it with malfeasance and misfeasance. Who are these well-meaning Liberians and foreign partners? When you do not legitimize the bad Johnson-Sirleaf government then you are deemed not well-meaning. The Americans are reporting this as a violation of human rights and the AG is playing cheap politics to gain her boss’ approval.

This brings me to a very important national security issue and that is Liberian’s immigration and nationality laws, the enforcement of which is the responsibility of the Liberian AG. According to the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Research Assessment office in Monrovia the current laws were modeled on the 1952 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, and have not been updated since 1974. Further the ABA ROLI, upon the request of the Immigration Administration undertook, completed, and presented an analysis and assessement of the Immigration and Nationality Laws of Liberia in 2009. The analysis was undertaken to assist the government in redrafting and modernizing the immigration and nationality laws of the country. The 1974 law and its analysis and assessment are available on the ABA LORI’s website. I have not been able to confirm if any further actions were taken to move the law along since that time.

This is a very important matter because in the past with the assistance of their influential friends, churches and political connections foreigners from neighboring countries like Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, USA, Guinea and the Caribbean Islands enjoyed access, privilege and good jobs in the public and private at the expense of the indigenous Liberians. Most of these people their children and extended families assumed citizenship and can now boast of Liberian citizenship and heritage. Something no Liberians could have accomplished then and now in those countries. As poor as the 1974 laws were the power elite still violated their own laws.

When in high school the chief of the LAMCO Buchanan plant protection force was a Ghanaian. When I graduated college and went to work for a public corporation about eighty percent of the staff in my department was a foreigner (Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans, and Indians). Sadly the only part-time student was a Ghanaian. They were all over the place at the expense and disadvantage of the indigenous Liberian.

Now in post conflict Liberia they control a big piece of what can be called the Liberian economy, as was confirmed by the special representative of the United Nations when she warned against this unwholesome practice in a speech. There is no big ambitious plan to prepare our people to take advantage of the newly discovered natural resource called OIL. This time in addition to their friends, families and connections, the UN and ECOWAS are the new vehicle of marginalization of the Liberian people. The government needs to become patriotic and put Liberia First. This time should be an opportunity to reinvent our “sweet land of liberty”. And I hope the immigration officials are moving along with “redrafting and modernizing “the new immigration and nationality laws instead of making excuses, excuses and excuses.

© 2013 by The Perspective
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