• LICHRD mounts pressure on the government

The Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD) wants the Justice Ministry to setup a probe committee to look into Tuesday, July 26, street violence that occurred between two rival youth groups, the University of Liberia’s based Student Unification Party (SUP) and the governing party’s Council of Patriots (CDC-CoP).

LICHRD’s Chairman, Neidoteh Boye Torbor, told the media over the weekend that the committee should include representatives of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL), the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), the Inter-faith Mediation Council of Liberia (IFCL), and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).

It believes that the inclusion of these independent institutions on the panel will build public trust and confidence in the outcome of the investigation. However, LICHRD strongly condemned the acts of violence that ensued between the two youth groups during the observance of the National Independence Day Celebration.

Quoting Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution, which guarantees the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble at all times, the human rights stated, among many things, that the act of the CDC-COP to allegedly brutalize peaceful university students (SUP) in the enjoyment of this constitutional provision is anti-democratic, inhumane, and an indication of the frequent disrespect for the rule of law.

In the same vein, the Coalition has expressed with dismay the refusal of the President to appoint the Ombudsman to receive complaints of public officials’ behaviors.

On Friday, May 6, this year, the rights group wrote to the President urging him to make an appointment to the office of Ombudsman, but since then the President has yet to respond to the Coalition despite a series of follow-ups.

Now that the Act has been ratified, LICHRD continued, it is expedient for the President to appoint the Ombudsman. “The Coalition is also cognizant that laws are not retroactive and as such, we call upon the government to allow the tenure of the commissioners of the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC) to come to closure before the commencement of the new Act.”

It said it is also concerned about the security of LACC’s Chairman, Edward Martins, who has intimated that since his advocacy against the new Act, his security has been threatened. “We call upon the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice to ensure that his rights and security are protected.”

We call upon the international community to include LICHRD and go forward that it wants ECOWAS, the United States Embassy, the United Kingdom Embassy, and the European Union to take note of the general human rights situation in Liberia as an early warning sign of conflict as the country moves toward the 2023 general and presidential elections.

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