US H/Rights report damn police again

The United States 2016 Human Rights Report has linked the Liberia National Police to serious abuses, including police harassment and intimidation of detainees.

The report also accused the police of arbitrary arrest and detention, press harassment, and that impunity remained a serious problem despite intermittent and limited government attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

According to the document, government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, recording that on 27 February, three officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Emergency Response Unit (ERU) responded to a call from Bright Farms rubber plantation in Mount Barclay, Montszerrado County where they fired several shots during a confrontation, one of which hit Stephen Bordor, a resident of Bright Farm in the back of his neck, leading to his eventual death.

The report added that the three officers allegedly involved in the shooting were dismissed and charged with manslaughter by a magisterial court, but released on bail, while their cases were submitted to the Montserrado County court for prosecution.

The human rights document further emphasized that last October, prosecution dismissed charges levied against police officers involved in the incident and subsequently reinstated them into the police force.

The report entitled: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor” also disclosed that while the Constitution of Liberia prohibits torture and inhumane treatment by law enforcement officers, the government is yet to institute measures against those involved.

It observed that police and other security officers allegedly abused, harassed, and intimidated persons in police custody, indicating that in October a woman was arrested during an LNP raid, reportedly stripped and severely beaten with nightstick and also kicked between her legs thus, causing her to stomp on her shins.

The document detailed that following the incident, the Inspector General of police directed an investigation into the Grand Gedeh situation in which an LNP commander abused and beat people besides other violations committed.

The report said the LNP commander involved in the incident was relieved of duty, pending outcome of an investigation that has not been concluded.

Previous human rights reports released by the American States Department had linked the LNP to various abuses, which signal a need for reforms in the institution that should protect lives and property.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Sime Darby’s fertilizers arrested

The Liberia National Police have arrested several bags of fertilizers belonging to the Sime Darby Palm Plantation Company in Western Liberia.

The fertilizer with inscription: “Sime Darby Liberia Plantation” was arrested in a warehouse managed by one Kpoto Morwu. Officers of the LNP Zone 5 Deport 1 in Paynesville executed the arrest following tipoff recently.

This paper has not contacted Sime Darby Management about the matter, but a man claiming ownership of the fertilizers only identified as Samuel took warehouse manager Morwu to court, demanding him to produce the items left in his (Morwu’s) care.
Several weeks following thorough investigation, police charged Mr. Morwu with crime of misapplication of entrusted property and subsequently forwarded the case to the Paynesville Magisterial Court for trial Police document dated 18 September 2016 reads: “We the police of Zone Five Deport One (Goba-Chop) have arrested four (4) bags of fertilizers from Mr. Kpoto Morwu’s warehouse and the fertilizer is now in police possession at the (E.O.) office.”

The E.O. is the Executive Officer, who signed the police document, identified as Matthew Davis. Complainant Samuel, according to document, had earlier accused defendant Kpoto Morwu of allegedly misdirecting his fertilizers left in his care for safe keeping.
According to him, the cost of the fertilizers is (LRD133, 000.00) One Hundred and Thirty Three Thousands Liberian dollars.

Authorities of the zone 5 deport 1 are currently in possession of the fertilizers, while the case is pending before the Paynesville Magisterial Court.However, the court during preliminary hearing of the case, requested complainant Samuel to explain how he acquired the fertilizers imported in the country by Sime Darby Palm Plantation Company for use on its agricultural plantations.
Court record revealed that since Samuel departed the premises of the court, he has failed to appear for fear of being detained for illegal possession of company property.

However, lawyers representing the legal interest of defendant Morwu, have requested the court to throw the case out for failure of the complainant to appear to explain how he acquired the fertilizers from the premises of Sime Darby Plantation in Western Liberia.

The complainant, who has allegedly gone in hiding, is said to have asked defendant Morwu to prevail on the police to have his fertilizers returned, but the matter is before the court.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

USAID to structure senate financial system

Senate Pro-tempore Armah Zolu Jallah and a delegation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) headed by its Director of Mission, Anthony Chan, have held discussion aimed at structuring the central administration and financial management system of the Liberian Senate.

According to a press release issued here on Tuesday, March 21, the meeting, which was held in the office of the Pro-tempore, also included Senators Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence of Grand Bassa County and Morris Saytumah of Bomi County, respectively all of whom jointly requested USAID support in the financial management system.

Accordingly, the fruitful discussion held with the USAID delegation will greatly improve the senate financial system that will include digital tracking and networking in the preparation and execution of the national budget as well as enhance the work of the Legislative Budget Office (LBO).

The meeting was fruitful especially with the presence of the head of USAID and basically it is noteworthy that the leadership of the Senate will like to see major transformation in the accounting system of the Senate,” said Pro-tempore Jallah.
He disclosed that the delegation accepted the request and also jotted lots of information, which will form the basis of the structuring of the central administration and financial management system at the Upper House.

“The initiative is important for the Senate, especially because it will holistically and prudently structure our financial management system and make it more robust, accountable and effective in its core operation and we are happy with their response to help improve our system,” Pro-tempore Jallah further noted.

In remarks, USAID Mission Director Chan expressed delight for the meeting with Pro-tempore Jallah and colleagues, and promised that their request will be highly considered to ensure improved financial system at the Legislature.
Notably, the USAID-Senate financial structuring support will incorporate employees of the Legislative Budget Office, who will be trained to discreetly execute the Senate budget in a timely manner.

Following the meeting, Pro-tempore Jallah appointed Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence to coordinate with the USAID officials in order to actualize the financial management structuring of the Senate to reflect accountability.
Meanwhile, the Pro-tempore has expressed delight over the steady progress achieved on the rehabilitation of roads in Gbarpolu County, especially the “dangerous” Kpo Hill that usually poses threat to commuters during rainy season. Press Release

Ellen urges recommitment to peace

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf has urged citizens’ recommitment to peace and reconciliation, in her pleads on the third leg of her nationwide farewell county tour that Liberians do all they can to help make the country what citizens want it to be.

The first Liberian female elected president is being credited here as first outgoing president who has taken up such time nearing the end of her administration to recognize in a special way and thank the citizenry for being peaceful during her administration.
She was welcomed in a traditional fashion with a white chicken and cola at villages and towns in Sinoe County, as young people, women and elders chanted slogans and telling President Sirleaf that they will miss her after her presidency.

During an intercessory service held at the Greenville City Hall on Monday, 20 March, President Sirleaf said she was pleased that “tonight” be a night of reflection on where the country has been blessed.

She said sometimes “we” forget the little things that matter to say thanks, especially after making a vow to God during difficult times when “we” thought there was nothing there “for us”. She referenced the Ebola crisis when the disease attacked the country and terrible predictions were made against the country, saying Liberians stood up and looked up to God for help.

Having recalled the difficult past, she urged that the intercessory night be used for reflection for making the “impossible possible”.

Earlier during a town hall meeting at Bilibokree City on Monday, Mrs. Sirleaf told citizens that the country would have been in trouble if citizens were fussing all the time. She said it was due to their peacefulness and cooperation that the country remains peaceful, while thanking and appreciating them for their role.

The President’s third leg of farewell tour saw Sinoe County lawmakers publicly reconciling and hugging at a town hall meeting in Bilibokree, after Sen. Milton Teahjay openly told citizens that tension in the county was too much. He said Sinoe was no exception to President Sirleaf’s suggestion that reconciliation here was government’s biggest challenge, having acknowledged that in seeking an elected job, one may not get the support of everyone.

Sen. Teahjay who has been reported to have been at loggerhead with Rep. Matthew Zarzar over alleged different political interests, had hugged Rep Zarzar, while acknowledging that “you” can’t go on hating everyone who did not support you in seeking your elected office.

Sen. Teahjay praised President Sirleaf for her work in the country, saying she was leaving a country that its people can be proud of.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Marine crafts commissioned at Greenville Port

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf has commissioned four marine crafts comprising of two tug boats, one pilot boat and one patrol boat at the Port of Greenville in the southeastern county of Sinoe on the third leg of her nationwide farewell tour on Monday, 20 March.

The marine crafts project is being funded through a US$30m Kuwaiti loan agreement and is expected to boost economic activities in the south eastern region, enhance revenue generation and create jobs.
President Sirleaf commissioned the marine crafts inside the port premises hours after visiting the Golden Veroleum Liberia or GVL site in Butaw where company officials announced plans to build palm oil processing mill here that could lead to oil export and creation of more jobs.

Before cutting ribbon to the newly commissioned marine crafts at Greenville Port, Mrs. Sirleaf Sirleaf recognized the work of both the previous and new management of the National Port of Authority or NPA for doing so well.

But she particularly said she was so glad about where the new management has taken Greenville Port, though she said much still needed to be done to make the port number one. Mrs. Sirleaf drew management’s attention to wrecks in water in the port as she openly expressed her displeasure to management. She, however, thanked the NPA board and staffs for support given the management.

NPA Managing Director Mr. David Williams said the purchase of the marine crafts can only spur economic activities in the south eastern region through increased vessels movements, job creation, revenue generation and faster turnaround time vessels.

Mr. Williams said there were other equipment that were expected to be here shortly, including reachstackers, forklifts, log loaders, navigational aids that are being produced for the Port of Greenville. “This is part of the modernization of the port, which is part of the President’s Agenda for Transformation of the Seaport Sector,” Mr. Williams said.

The NPA Boss also thanked the government and people of Kuwait whose partnership with Liberia made the commissioning ceremony possible under the Kuwait loan agreement to purchase the marine crafts. The marine crafts commissioning was graced by Sinoe County Legislative caucus, county officials and other cabinet members that accompanied President Sirleaf on her nationwide farewell tour.

She is touring four counties in the southeast, including Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland and River Gee. Mrs. Sirleaf had broken grounds for Sinoe County Community College, and interacted with locals who had lined up in towns and villages along the road from Greenville City to Bilibokree City where a town hall meeting was held.

On the work done at GVL, President Sirleaf said the company did well, but its work was not yet complete until it builds the mill and begins exporting products. President Sirleaf earlier told a town hall meeting in Bilibokree that she was happy that GVL had employed 2000 people, having interacted with locals along the Butaw road that spoke of settling their confusion with GVL and signing a memorandum of understanding.Intercessory services and cultural performances are taking place at various counties visited by the president.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

MHA observe Down Syndrome Day

A local and non-government organization under the banner “My Heart Appeal Incorporated has observed its 5th anniversary for children living with Down Syndrome in Liberia.

The local NGO says March 21 each year is celebrated globally as World Down Syndrome Day, where the voices of people with sickness, and those who work and live with them, grow louder.

The organization was founded in the American State of Maryland in 1996 as a non-profit institution to meet the special education and training needs for people with disabilities.
Speaking at the official celebration on Tuesday, March 21, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Madam Lovetie Major said, the organization was inaugurated in 2001 and has since defined its target population as the mild, moderate or severe intellectually disabled. 
MHA is now incorporated and in Liberia with future plan to extend to other West African countries as well. It looks forward to laying a solid foundation in the sub-region.

The celebration, which was held at the Christ The King Catholic Church in Gaye Town, Old Road, brought together officials of from the Ministries of Education, Gender, and Health, respectively, including parents and children face with Down Syndrome and other disabilities.

CEO Major said key objectives of the celebration include generating funds to support the mission of My Heart’s Appeal Incorporated, providing a safe campus in Liberia, to give teens and adults in West Africa with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to get training in order to become productive as well as training programs for teachers and assistants to work effectively with them.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”, she noted.

She said her passion grew and was extended so that other individuals could have chance to learn without discrimination either on the basis of sex, culture or religion, saying “It is the belief of this corporation that all individuals deserve the inherent and socio-political rights to all the privileges enjoy by those we call normal people.”

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Brumskine a big liar

Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has sharply reacted to recent criticism coming from Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Party, describing the LP standard bearer as a “big liar.”

In a live broadcast last week, Cllr. Brumskine accused VP Boakia, who is current standard bearer of the governing Unity Party of spreading rumor that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was supporting his (Brumskine’s) bid for the presidency.

“I have heard this for a while from other presidential candidates and their surrogates and even surrogates of the Vice President, but hand decided not to respond, knowing that it is designed to distract from the important issue of who is most prepared to lead our country. But because such nonsense has been reiterated by a presidential candidate, who is the sitting Vice President of the country, I now feel constrained to respond”, Brumskine had alleged recently.

But Vice President Boakai says the Liberty Party leader’s assertion is totally misrepresentation of the facts.

Speaking to this paper on the campus of the Garretson W. Gibson High School in Monrovia on Sunday, March 19, he said Cllr. Brumskine, being someone, who wants state power should practice to tell the truth always.

“It is good for someone who wants state power to practice true telling and I advise that he desists from misrepresentation of the facts. It doesn’t show any value to the young people,” said VP Boakai, who is equally aspiring to become the next President of Liberia after Madam Sirleaf.

Boakai, who appears to be uncomfortable with question about reported US$9 million allocated in the national budget for the past years for his office, said that the national budget is a public document that anyone could read.

He challenged Liberians to read the budget and make their judgment about it, stressing that it is the moral responsibility of the Liberty Party strongman to tell the true.

VP Boakai recently accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thru the media of withholding support and abandoning the governing Unity Party, including him as the new standard bearer, and candidate for President, an allegation that subsequently led President Sirleaf to have recently attended a rally at the UP headquarters in Congo Town where 15 brand new twin-cabin pickups were presented to the ruling party for use in all 15 counties in a show of reassurance.

In a statement last Thursday, March 16, Cllr. Brumskine noted that he was constrained to respond to the accusation against his party on grounds that it has been reiterated by Vice President Boakai.

He claimed that that for the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the government has proposed to give the office of VP Boakai US$2,394,287; while for the current fiscal year 2016-2017, the government gave VP Boakai office US$2, 193759, and fiscal year 2015-2016, the government gave the VP office US$2,313,094, respectively.

Brumskine continued that VP Boakai allegedly received US$1,828,091 in 2014-2015, while Ebola was raging and killing people in Lofa; and that the VP has over the last three years received in total US$8,729,231.

He further alleged that VP Boakai received nearly US$9 million from the 2014 fiscal budget, while the total spending on health institutions in his (Boakai’s) native Lofa County for the same three year period was only US$3,406,881.

Cllr. Brumskine said claims that the Liberty Party is being supported by President Sirleaf, are totally false, adding that there was no iota of truth to the insinuation of the Vice President.

He said President Sirleaf has not given the party any such support in cash or kind, though he bragged that it appears that the LP is better financed now than it was in 2011.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Fresh Frozen Food joins rotten chicken sale

Fresh Frozen Food (F.F.F.) business center, which operates in Paynesville Red Light outside Monrovia, has been linked to the sale of expired frozen products to the public.

The decayed chicken layers, this paper gathered, were imported here in 2016, but has expired. Despite the expiration, the company has over frozen the product to avoid consumers and marketers from noticing its decomposed state.

The Fresh Frozen Food management has designed a strategy in which sticker bearing manufacture and expiration dates are removed from the brown cartoon in which the chicken layer are contained before selling to its marketers.

The New Dawn has discovered that prior to placing the rotten layers on the market; the company had sold hundreds of cartoons of expired Soft Tar Chicken for L$1,550 per cartoon.

Interestingly, the management of Fresh Frozen Food is selling the rotten layer chicken on the market for L$1,850.00, which is the original price of the product.

Our reporter, who visited several markets, including Paynesville Red Light General Market, Duala General Market on Bushrod Island, Old Road General Market in Old Road community and West Point General Market along UN Driver, respectively observed the rotten layer chicken was on sale.

Some market women who begged for anonymity, said that they expected the FFF company to auction the goods but to their surprise, they were buying the item from the company at the same price of L$1,850.00 and L$1,550.00 for the soft thigh chicken.

State security officers last week arrested a businesswoman and a wheelbarrow operator with several bags of rotten fish in Paynesville Red Light.

The woman, during security investigation, confessed that she bought the product from Africa #1 Cole Storage also in Paynesville.

The two suspects were held last week at the Police Zone Five Depot in Paynesville Red Light, but this paper is yet to establish whether they were sent to the Paynesville Magisterial Court for prosecution, including the Lebanese, who sold the product.

The woman, name undisclosed, narrated that she bought the rotten fish from two Lebanese nationals, whom she only identified as Sam and Alee, sale managers of the F.F.F.

When contacted over the weekend, the management of the company refused to speak to journalists.-NEW Dawn

Governor Weeks recommends prescriptions to revise economy

The Executive Governor and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia Mr. Milton A. Weeks says in order to revise the economy of Liberia, a more concerted effort with greater emphasis on value addition in domestic production, especially in the agriculture and manufacturing sector cannot be over emphasized.

Governor Weeks stressed a need for appropriate macroeconomic management tools to promote diversification for more inclusive growth and development here, adding that the Central Bank of Liberia, through enhanced policy coordination and harmonization, with the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, has been working along with other stakeholders to institute key economic policies to recuperate the economy from the various shocks.

He gave the emphasis in an address delivered on Monday, March 20, 2017at the opening of a five-day National Workshop on Economic & Financial Analysis for Media Practitioners and Legislative Budget Officers in Monrovia, which is being held in collaboration with the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management or WAIFEM.

He noted that over the last three years, the Liberian economy has been grossly affected by shocks such as the decline in primary commodities price (iron ore and rubber), depreciation in the Liberian Dollar, drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, the Ebola Pandemic, high importation, and infrastructure constraints, saying “As a result of these and the uncertainty due to the forthcoming presidential and general elections in 2017, the economy remains relatively challenged.”

In welcoming remarks, WAIFEM Director General, Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, who was represented by Professor Douglason G. Omotor also from the regional body, assured WAIFEM’s continuous commitment to build the capacity of journalists and various stakeholders in economic and financial management for effective communication to the public.

Professor Omotor disclosed that WAIFEM’s programs have been extended beyond West Africa to other parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, Gabon and Cameroon, among others. He said besides, the regional institution has also started a French Language program since 2016.

According to the Executive Governor Weeks, an important aspect of economic and financial analysis is the issue of government policies and plans which affect the economy in various ways,

adding that since policies and plans adopted by governments at various levels are responsible for shaping the economy it is necessary to subject them, through analysis, to scrutiny, but observed that a great challenge in economic and financial analysis especially in the sub-region is the dearth of knowledgeable professionals.

“The tendency is that all and sundry have assumed the ability and responsibility of analysing and commenting on government economic and financial policies. Most of the time some of these analysts undertake their analysis without understanding the basic economic theoretical underpinnings of the policies. Others go on to analyse without digging deep into the facts available to government functionaries, who informed the adoption of such policies and planning for such projects and programmes in the first place. This sometimes result either in under-reporting or over-reporting of government policies and programmes”, he said.

He said, another challenge is the need for timely, accessible and quality data dissemination for economic and financial analyses and policy implementation, stressing that more timely and reliable data is needed in several key areas, such as gross domestic product, inflation rates, unemployment rates, external sector and the financial sector. “In the external sector”, Governor Weeks explains, “timely and reliable data is for example, required for addressing “debt sustainability” (potential “currency crises”), by focusing on external positions, external debt and reserves; while in the case of financial sector soundness for example, focus should be on developing macro prudential indicators.”

Therefore, he emphasized that being an economic and financial analyst requires professional skills, so that the output would not only be accurate but also reliable, and warned that failure to appreciate the importance of the stakeholders often leads to poor collection, compilation and dissemination of economic and financial statistics, thereby rendering the corresponding economic and financial analysis spurious, saying “To this end, this course is timely and very important.”

He said in addition, the CBL has continued its efforts to support the economic growth and development of the economy, including working to develop the payment system, intervening in the real sector through credit easing, especially for the rubber and housing sector, and rolling over some microfinance facilities, while introducing various financial services vehicles such as agency banking and mobile money to expedite financial transaction, amongst others.

“Given all that have been said, it is very important to have individuals considered as Analysts with the expertise and knowledge to interpret as well as explain to our stakeholders and our citizenry, the policy initiatives aimed at ensuring we continue to have a stable and sound economy.

As the Executive Governor, and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central bank of Liberia, I want to assure you that the Central Bank of Liberia will continue to pursue its ultimate goal of price stability with a view to ensuring macroeconomic stability characterized by low inflation and a stable exchange rate”, The CBL boss pledged.

Stand up for your rights

The political leader of the opposition Liberia National Union or LINU, has urged youth of Liberia to stand up for their rights, stressing that this is the time for the voices of the young people to be heard.

Speaking with this paper in an exclusive interview in Paynesville outside Monrovia, Mr. Nathaniel Blama said, the young people of Liberia, according to the 2008 national census, constitute 63 percent of the population, saying they need to stop playing around and stand up to vote for the right person so their voices will be heard.

“If they can’t speak out loudly so that their voices can be heard, things that they so desire and the things that they are in need of will not be met, the youth need to come together and stop antagonizing one another, with a clear written objectives”, he added.

Mr. Blama said young people’s support for an individual should not be based on tribal line, but rather competence. He also said they have a major role in deciding their own future by electing the right person, noting that they can decide their own future.

Meanwhile, the LINU leader has also said that the trucking of people from one community or district to another to register or vote is evil and illegal.

He said politicians, who were in the habit of trucking citizens should be condemned for such evil act, adding that citizens who are in their own district should be given chance to make their decision on who to elect to represent them in the Legislature.

By Ethel A. Tweh

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