Brutality against ordinary Liberians;
By: Abdullah O. Bility
Many citizens were severely brutalized and others lost their life to joint security brutality after the President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. George M. Weah declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, April 8th, which took immediate effect on April 10, 2020, in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The state of emergency placed limitations on the Liberty of ordinary Liberians but gave authority to police and other security agencies who exercised their duties unlawfully.
The Liberian National Police (LNP) is the frontline force of internal security in the fight against crimes, the protection of life and property and the maintenance of the rule of law, as directed by its statute:
• To protect life and property
• To maintain law and order
• To prevent, detect and investigate crimes
• And to preserve and enhance internal security.
The duties and functions section 2.3 (a) of the Arm Forces of Liberia (AFL) officially states that the primary mission of the AFL shall be to defend the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Liberia, including land, air, and maritime territory, against external aggression, insurgency, terrorism, and encroachment.
Also, the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) is responsible to implements and enforce the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia and safeguards and protects the borders and boundaries (air, land, and sea) of Liberia against the illegal entry of aliens in the country.
But the period of the state of emergency saw the above-mentioned security agencies and others, including the Monrovia City Cooperation police going contrary to their duties and functions.
End the Joint Security Brutality
A female police officer identified as Sonnie Jallah kicked a pot of hot water that poured on three-year-old Francis Mensah who suffered severe burns after officer Jallah attempted forcing him and his grandmother indoor on April 20, 2020. This incident that took placed in the West point community, central Monrovia led to the death of little Francis Mensah.
On April 16th, a group of soldiers from the Arm Forces of Liberia went on the rampage in slipway community, rampaging homes and injuring residents. Their actions left a deep cut on the left hand of a lady whose name is unknown.
A student of the University of Liberia, who is a member of the Students Unification Party (SUP) and a famous leader of the students’ revolution on the campuses of the University of Liberia, commonly known as Walter Sisulu was mercilessly beating by Monrovia City Cooperation police and other securities, along with three of his friends for moving around in the community.
The period of the state of emergency led to the brutalization of more than 150 Liberians, 1 death confirmed and about 5 death unconfirmed.
The problem here is, those who enforce the law must not be, or be seen to be above the law. They should not incite violence and create tension, especially on ordinary and vulnerable citizens.
Therefore, the abuse of power is an extremely serious problem in present-day Liberia.
In eradicating brutality and abuse against ordinary Liberians, affording limited responsibilities to the joint security would be a key factor.
Genuine accountability should exist and attempts at greater accountability need to be introduced and practice throughout the entire country. Point out Joint Security brutality, with statistics often highlighting particular issues. The escalations of brutality by Joint Security officers could result in them being sued, fired, or accepting liability.
Clearly, it would greatly help to reduce tensions and thus brutality if sensible laws are implemented.
Often, another unfortunate consequence of high profile acts of Joint Security brutality is the damaging of community trust in the many dedicated officers who serve in a professional and respectful manner.
Greater Joint Security transparency and accountability would be a welcome step towards a freer future.