MODHAR Calls for the Release of Human Rights Lawyer
Posted April 24, 2002
Monrovia, Wednesday 24 April 2002. The Movement for the Defence of Human Rights MODHAR has strongly condemned the arrest and subsequent detention (without explanation or charge) of Liberia’s Human Rights Lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe. MODHAR says this common trend of arbitrariness, intimidation, mental torture, molestation and hasty detention (without the benefit to be investigated) characterizing recent waves of arrests by the Liberia National Police against peaceful Liberians, purely on the basis of free speech, is a blatant violation of the fundamental freedoms of speech and of the press as guaranteed under Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution.
MODHAR demands that the government of Liberia takes practical steps to immediately halt these ugly acts being spearheaded by the Liberia National Police. MODHAR warns that if this growing un-professionalism and unethical display of power drunkenness and abuse of power by the police is not checked, and checked in a hurry, Liberia runs the risk of being regarded (internationally) as a crippling nation of paralyzed civility.
Consequently MODHAR wishes to unequivocally emphasize that the tendency of the Liberia National Police to systematically seize journalists, civil society leaders and human rights activists under the false pretext of being invited to provide clarification to the police for statement made, only to discover that they are immediately stripped of their wearing and placed behind bars with hardened criminals (by the police) without being asked a single question is not only lawless, but a clear criminalization of the law enforcement system of Liberia.
In several instances like the arrests and detention of journalists of the Analyst and News Newspapers, the, JPC Director Francess Johnson Morris, five staff members of the National Human Rights Center of Liberia, among others, it is clear that the police has abused its discretionary powers to arrest without a warrant and is bound to continue in this direction against innocent and peace loving Liberians who hold views contrary to government. MODHAR is therefore calling for a legislative review of the “police discretionary powers to arrest without a warrant” so as to safeguard the civil liberties of persons who may be persecuted by police on the basis of opinion expressed.
MODHAR says it can not understand why the government would find embarrassing pleasure in arresting Cllr. Gongloe few days after he delivered a written speech in the Republic of Guinea (and published in the Analyst News Paper in Liberia) where he was invited as a civil society representative to discuss “Political Activities for the Attainment of Peace and Development in the Mano River Union Basin [http://www.theperspective.org/gongloemruspeech.html]”.
MODHAR says it is legally holding the Liberian government responsible to ensure the safety of Cllr. Gongloe in the criminal cell where he is currently, as it is a common practice that inmates severely torture political detainees on the instructions of police. In the same vein MODHAR is calling the Liberian government to unconditionally release Cllr. Gongloe without delay.
J. Aloysius Toe
Movement for the Defense of Human Rights (MODHAR)
152 Carey Street, Monrovia, Liberia
TEL: 231-227-334/Mobile: 06515158
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