Liberia, EU sign Aide Memoire of Joint Implementation Committee

Implementation Committee (JIC), which oversees implementation of the Forestry Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Program through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Liberia and the European Union, has taken place on 10 July at the Monrovia City Hall.

European Union Ambassador Hélène Cavé and Chairman of the FDA Board of Directors Harrison Karnwea have agreed on the final version of the document that informs on progress towards implementation of the VPA.

It aims to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Liberia to the EU. The JIC meeting took place in Monrovia from 13-14 June 2018, and it was the first since the new government took office earlier this year, including the new Forest Development Authority Managing Director C. Mike Doryen.

The technical and preparatory discussions were co-chaired by Mr. Alberto Menghini of the EU Delegation and C. Mike Doryen of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA). Ambassador Hélène Cavé of the EU Delegation to Liberia and FDA Board Chair Mr. Harrison S.

Karnwea co-chaired the formal session and signed the Aide Memoire.Several partners including the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), European Forest Institute (EFI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank were invited to attend the meeting.

Participating stakeholders from the Liberian side included nine ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, the Liberia Timber Association and the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC).

The meeting focused on discussing progress in VPA implementation milestones and improving the capacities of government agencies, the private sector, civil society and communities.

An open stakeholder session for raising additional topics also took place. Discussions needed to be prolonged beyond the first session, so further dialogue and joint efforts allowed for an agreement that translates into the Aide Memoire document.
Further to this, both parties will renew their commitment to the VPA through the signature of a new financing agreement for EUR 4M that will ensure additional support to the process.
Liberia’s Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah will sign the new financing agreement officially during the EU Liberia Political Dialogue later this week.

A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU.
A VPA aims to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.
In addition to promoting trade in legal timber, VPAs address the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement.

A major strength of VPAs is that they look beyond trade to consider development and environmental issues.
Liberia and the EU negotiated their VPA between 2009 and 2011. The negotiations involved representatives of Liberian civil society organisations, community organisations, the private sector, and government ministries and agencies.

As a result, significant national ownership and stakeholder engagement were achieved and the VPA reflects a broad consensus among stakeholders.--Press release

Police ready to help Kebbah victim Helena

Liberia’s Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue says the Liberia National Police (LNP) will take responsibility for the medical bill of victim Helena Nimely, a day after the Kebbah Community riot victim cried out for help and accused police of allegedly abandoning her.

During a riot between police officers and residents following a motor accident in which a motorcycle operator and a passenger at Kebbah were hit and killed by a truck driver on Wednesday, 27 June in Barnersville, victim Helena says she sustained a gunshot wound and was being treated at the Trinity Healing Temple (THT) Hospital.

But she told reporters on Monday, 9 July that police authorities withdrew their help on grounds that she did not sustain bullet wound and offered to pay for the initial three days she stayed at the hospital, leaving the rest of the burden for the medical bill with her family.

But Col. Sudue on Tuesday, 10 July disputed reports that victim Helena was hit by a bullet, arguing that if she were hit in her neck by an AK - 47 bullet, it would have resulted to her death because “AK - 47 travels 350 meters per second.

“So in a close proximity for a projectile of [an] AK - 47 to hit that woman on the neck, well probably we would have been saying something different,” he argues.

Notwithstanding the debate whether there was lethal or non - lethal weapon used to wound victim Helena, Col. Sudue says he cannot sit to see a Liberian being victimized from a riot and shifts blame.

He says his primary objective is to see Helena recovers, announcing that he is reaching out to the family immediately “to ensure that we take care of her hospital bills and everything and to ensure that she be treated until she fully recovers.”
He says he is building a police force to leave a legacy for the LNP to follow and be the “people’s police.”

He notes that whenever the police engage people whether in riot or not and someone is wounded, the first thing the police should do is to ensure that the person is being cared for.

Earlier on Monday, 9 July, victim Helena Nimely cried out for further treatment, accusing the LNP of abandoning her and denying responsibility for the wound she sustained in her neck during a bloody riot in Barnersville last month.

“At first the doctor said that it was bullet wound, but everything turned around when 102 [Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations] went in the doctor’s office,” victim Helena told reporters in Monrovia Monday, 9 July.

According to her, when the incident took place, police went to the hospital that was treating her and allegedly assured the hospital that they were shouldering responsibility for the hospital bill.
But she lamented Monday that since the police visited the hospital the third day, they did not return there again, thus prompting the nurse there to stop treating her wound.

“Now I am still in pain, this is not an ordinary wound, it is a bullet wound. I have come to tell the international community that I need treatment. I am still sick and in serious pain in my neck and chest,” victim Helena explained.

Victim Helena said the doctor told her to leave because nobody was paying for her medication. “So I left because I was not attended to and also never had water to even take bath,” Helena lamented further.

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

Liberty Party warns Rep. Gray

Opposition Liberty Party (LP) is warning here that the George Weah - led government and Montserrado County District #8 Rep. Moses Acarous Gray are treading into dangerous waters to plan impeachment of Associates Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

The party says in a press release issued Tuesday, 10 July that Liberians are again being awakened to the bruising realities of misrule that has always punctuated successive administrations, and set the stage for conflict in national life.

LP claims that it strongly believes that government is trying to witch hunt Justice Ja’neh with impeachment due to his involvement in the 2017 electoral case involving the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the LP and Unity Party (UP) that was characterized by fraud and several irregularities.

Signed by party Chairman Sen. Stephen Zargo and Secretary General Jacob Smith, the LP release warns that Liberians may be on yet another powder keg, as the Weah Administration and its agents allegedly continue to flout the laws with their utterances and actions.

LP cites Mr. Gray’s recent announcement that he is submitting an impeachment bill against Justice Ja’neh, but fell short of mentioning why such action is being taken.

LP claims that it is common knowledge that during his football years, President Weah acquired French citizenship, urging him to stop pretending to be the Angel that touches the water to induce healing.

The party says the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC )government should be well advised to focus its attention on improving the economy, the exchange rate which is killing the average Liberian and get drugs in the hospitals, among others.

“But we can understand why nothing of such is forthcoming Simply because we are being led by an institution that has no governance direction,” LP claims further.

The party says it is without any doubt that Justice Ja’neh stands out as a man of integrity, not only as a member of the Supreme Court Bench, where he has distinguished himself, but also as a Liberian citizen, a man of great honor.

“So, it does not take a smart person to realize that the real reason why the Weah-led government would want to remove Justice Ja’neh from the Supreme Court is because of the role he played in the case,” the release alleges.

LP says Justice Ja’neh’s presence on the Bench also keeps the hope and aspiration of many Liberians for a strong and independent judiciary alive.--Press release

MYS reacts to Rep. Smith’s proposed bill

The Minister of Youth and Sports D. Zeogar Wilson has reacted sharply to Montserrado County District #2 Rep. Jimmy Smith’s introduction of a bill to the House of Representatives calling for an “Act to Detach the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Minister Wilson terms the plans to make MVTC an autonomous institute as “appalling, contrary to good governance, and a recipe to dismantle government ministries and agencies.”

Rep. Smith recently accused the Ministry of operating a “bureaucratic bottleneck system which, according to him serves as an impediment to the smooth running of the school, among other things.

In a communication to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, dated 9 July, Minister Wilson outrightly rejected the lawmaker’s allegation.Minister Wilson writes that like any other government entity including the Legislature, the Ministry only follows the Public Financial Management (PFM) and Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) laws of the Republic of Liberia in the discharge of its duties.

He says Rep. Smith’s claims of bureaucratic bottleneck at the Ministry is rather unfortunate that a lawmaker will refer to the law of the land as such and seeks to make an organ of government-run institution autonomous simply because the ministry follows the law.

According to the communication to Speaker Chambers, Minister Wilson says since he took over as Minister of Youth and Sports, Rep. Smith has not brought to his attention concerns he has had in the past that were not addressed.

He adds that Rep. Smith has not also informed him of any concerns he has with his administration, noting that the lawmaker’s action is so surprising to the ministry.
“Therefore the Act introduced by Representative Smith is contrary to good governance. It is a recipe for dismantling of government ministries and agencies and sends a message that following the law is a crime, if allowed to survive,” he says.Concluding, Min. Wilson calls on the House of Representatives and all sub-committees of the Legislature to reject the proposed bill by Rep. Smith.

By Sally Gaye --Edited by Winston W. Parley

Court sentences woman to 2 years

The fourth judicial circuit court in Harper City, Maryland County, southeast Liberia sentences Patience Doplah, age 25 for two years after her conviction for aggravated assault.

Doplah committed the crime in January 2018 against a minor Arma Geply, who she punished for eating her kept food by burning her hands in fire in Zone 11 community, Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District, Maryland County.

Police arrested and charged her for the cruelty against the child and eventually sent her to court for trial.The Pleebo Magisterial court forwarded the case to the 4th judicial circuit court in Harper because it was beyond its trial jurisdiction.

Speaking in open court, Patience Doplah admitted to committing the crime and was seeing crying, asking for mercy. The court presided over by his Honor, Judge Nelson Tokpah, brought down a guilty verdict after she admitted to the crime and was sentenced for two years at the Harper Central Prison.

Meanwhile, report gathered by this paper says the victim and her mother has since traveled to the Unites States for proper medication and rehabilitation after spending several weeks at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia.

The Independent Human Rights Commission monitor in Maryland, S. Boniface Nyema, lauds the court for dispensing justice, adding that it will serve as deterrence.

By George K. Momo/Maryland County --Editing by Jonathan Browne

LRA licenses 25 customs brokers

The Liberia Revenue Authority or LRA certificates and licenses 25 Customs Brokers who successfully passed the customs broker’s examination administered by the LRA.

Customs brokers are private individuals, partnerships or associations licensed to assist importers and exporters in meeting requirements governing imports and exports. They act as professional agents for an importer or exporter, by preparing and submitting all documents for clearing goods through customs.

According to LRA press release, the Licensing of the first batch of 25 Customs Brokers is in keeping with Section 6.0 A (iii) of the Customs Brokers Revenue Administrative Regulation which mandates the LRA to administer Customs Brokers Competency Licensing Examination as a standard for practicing custom brokerage.

Presenting Certificates of License to the brokers recently at the LRA Headquarters in Paynesville, former Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba described the event as a milestone achievement.

The 25 Customs Brokers were the first to be licensed by the LRA since its establishment four years ago.Madam Tamba encouraged customs brokers who have successfully gone through the customs examination to consider the profession as a noble career.

She emphasized the need for collaboration between customs brokers and the LRA as both parties are serving the interest of taxpayers.Madam Tamba stresses that modernizing and transforming Liberia’s revenue administration remains quite vital, and this cannot be achieved without the partnership of customs brokers.

Assistant Commissioner of Customs for Technical Operations, William Buku congratulated the licensed customs brokers, and cautions that those pursuing career in the field of customs brokerage should see it as a noble profession that should be taken seriously.

He encourages the newly licensed custom brokers to establish themselves into businesses and be trustworthy at all times, and warns against the practice of dishonesty while rendering services to their client as well as the LRA.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow customs brokers, Kansualism Berk Kansuah, thanked the Management of the LRA for providing them the training. Mr. Kansuah said the newly licensed brokers will not work in isolation if they are to succeed in their individual businesses. He said they will unite and work together in the best interest of the country. Press Release

Govt. urged to invest more in Education

The executive director for the Youth Coalition for Education Liberia calls on the Government of Liberia to invest more financial resources in the educational sector.

Mr. Beyan Flomo Pewee says when government invests more financial resources in the educational sector of the Country, it would afford many Liberians opportunity to be able to control their economy now in the hands of foreigners.

Speaking Sunday, 8 July at the 4th graduation exercise of the “Life Changers Day Care and Elementary School” in Monrovia, Mr. Pewee also called on government allocate more resources to accelerate industrial growth and national development.

He notes that available statistics from developed countries indicate that significant investments made in technical, vocational education and training accelerated their industrial growth and development.

Mr. Pewee appeals to government to provide allowances for books and research to Polytechnic teachers.He observes that current trends of employment in tertiary institutions do not guarantee job for life unless the employee contributed to knowledge through research and innovation to justify continued engagement.

He disagrees with former President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that the Liberian education system is a mess and welcome recent results of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations released by the Liberian government in which 65 percent of students across the country failed.

Mr. Pewee lauds those Liberian students who for the first time wrote the exams and passed as compared to other West African countries that have been writing the exams regularly.

He argues that 33,124 candidates took the series of tests from April 3-20, 2018 at 216 testing centers in the country with 32 of the 600 senior high schools that participated recording a 100 percent pass rate.

He says students from the 32 schools received the minimum grade required to pass.According to him, the only problem facing the Liberian education system is moral and financial support, rather than a messy system.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Youth leaders blame DEA, Police for rampant ghettos, crimes

A famous African parlance says, “Lion and deer cannot dwell under one roof”, because a lion is not only fearful, but omnivorous, often killing other animals for meals. Hence, deer and other animals are not lion’s confidants because their safety is not guarantee.

Similarly, a community where police officers and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents are deployed should be “No-go-zone” for illicit drug dealers, users, and criminals, but in Liberia, all seems to flock together, as the Press and Propaganda Officer for the Concern Youth Alliance of Montserrado County district#3 bemoans.
Hamilton Togbay says it is a waste of taxpayers’ money by national government to support both police and DEA officers assigned in his district because their presence there does not guarantee residents safety; rather, it encourages illicit drug addicts and criminals to terrorize peaceful citizens on a daily basis.

“Mainly where DEA officers are, there should be no ghetto and criminals, but opposite Pipeline’s Super Market, where DEA office is located, one ghetto is opposite it and the DEA officers are in cohort with the ghetto boys to snatch pedestrians’, passengers’ cell phones, money and other valuable items at night hours”, he laments.
He says the presence of both the police and the DEA is polluting minds of youths of the district, explaining that on several occasions, police had been on the scene and ghetto boys snatched pedestrians’ and passengers’ cell phones, while the police failed to rescue the victims but negotiate with the criminals to share booty from the crime.

In a discouraged tone, Hamilton continues that as a result of several ghettos being in the district, armed robbers assail citizens regularly and go with impunity because police officers and DEA officers who are direct representation of national government dine and wine with ghetto boys and illicit drug dealers and users.
He says it is regrettable for DEA officers and police officers to be confidants of ghetto dwellers and illegal drug dealers and users, a situation he describes as annoyance and inflammable.

The CYA Press and Propaganda Officer notes that District#3 residents are calling on national government to immediately deploy a new batch of police officers and DEA agents to the district and reassign those currently there because they are in cohort with criminals, drug dealers, users, and ghetto’s boys, causing trauma for peaceful citizens.

Also speaking, the district’s Youth Advocate, Samuel C. Sheriff, confirms there are rampant users and dealers of illegal drugs in the district, adding that District Three has 11 communities and each of the has over five ghettos.

He laments that as a result, the district lacks freedom of movement both in the day and night, observing that in the presence of police officers and DEA agents, criminals and ghetto boys are comfortable to terrorizing passengers, pedestrians and peaceful citizens without security officers’ intervention.

When contacted, Pipeline’s DEA office Commander, Andrew G. Nimely, declines to comment on the issues raised by the youth leaders until he could attend a meeting scheduled at the DEA head office in Fiamah Community, Monrovia.

By Ojuku Silver-tongue Kangar, Jr. (Intern)-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Education reduces poverty

The Susan Books African Methodist Episcopal Elementary and Junior High School valedictorian has told parents, school authorities and well-wishers that the only key instrument to reducing poverty is the education.

According to student Doris Kollie of the 9th grade class, for so long education has proven to be the only way out in every capacity of life and further cautions parents not to take education for their children lightly.

Student Kollie continues that without education among the people of a country, the nation is bound to fail, noting that education gives every human being the second thought that helps saves them from the worst.

She extends thanks and appreciations to her parents and teachers for impacting her and giving her the opportunity to be in school while some of her friends are still on the street helping to provide food for their parents.

But student Kollie also advises parents not to use their children as breadwinners while their age mates are all in school learning to better their future.
She also calls on the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of education to provide free education for all Liberian children, noting that some parents cannot afford paying their children’s school fees.

She observes that lot of her age mates are not in school but they are getting involved in things that destroy their future.

Also speaking, the principle of the School Rev. Abraham M. Sambo extends appreciations to parents for their cooperation during the academic year.
He also applauds teachers for their effort in making the school a better place for better learning.

“I want to extend my appreciation to all the qualified staff that are working hard so that the school remains on par with other schools. Today marks the 28th graduation program,” he concludes.

By Ben P. Wesee--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Gunshot victim cries for treatment

Kebbah Community alleged gunshot victim Helena Nimely is crying for further treatment, accusing the Liberia National Police (LNP) of abandoning her and denying responsibility for the wound she sustained in her neck during a bloody riot in Barnersville last month.

“At first the doctor said that it was bullet wound, but everything turned around when 102 [Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations] went in the doctor’s office,” victim Helena told reporters in Monrovia Monday, 9 July.

During a riot between police officers and residents following the killing of a motorcycle operator and a passenger at Kebbah by a truck driver on Wednesday, 27 June, victim Helena says she sustained a gunshot wound and was being treated at the Trinity Healing Temple (THT) Hospital.

According to her, when the incident took place, police went to the hospital that was treating her and allegedly assured the hospital that they were shouldering responsibility for the hospital bill.

But she laments that since police visited the hospital the third day, they have not gone there again, thus prompting the nurse there to stop treating her wound.

“Now I am still in pain, this is not an ordinary wound, it is a bullet wound. I have come to tell the international community that I need treatment. I am still sick and in serious pain in my neck and chest,” victim Helena explains.

Victim Helena says the doctor told her to leave because nobody was paying for her medication. “So I left because I was not attended to and also never had water to even take bath,” Helena laments further.

On the day of the incident, Deputy Police Inspector General for Administration Col. Sadatu Reeves told our reporters on the scene that two police officers were due to be investigated for the shooting, but she declined to disclose the names of those two officers.

“It is my hope that the victim gets well. We are sure who fired and where the bullet came from but we are going to investigate and justice will take its course,” Col. Reeves said.
But she was immediately contradicted by Police Spokesman Moses Carter in a press release that “no round was fired as was reported on social media.” Mr. Carter instead accused protesters of using petrol bombs, glass bottles, and stones to attack police officers, saying six persons were arrested in connection with the violent protest and were undergoing investigation, while the truck driver Abou Sheriff was in police custody undergoing investigation.

But Madam Florence T. Nagbe of the THT Health Center told reporters on the day of the incident that the wound was a bullet wound. She said the bullet came from the back and penetrated through the victim’s neck.

However, victim Helena also speaks of Col. Reeves paying visit to her (Helena) at the hospital on the same day of the incident. But she says out of sudden, Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations Col. Robert Budy entered the doctor’s office on the third day “and from that time the police never visited the hospital.”

“I believe there was a foul play that went on there,” victim Helena continues, saying at first the doctor said that it was bullet wound but everything turned around when 102 (Col. Budy) went in the doctor’s office.

Helena says before they left the hospital, they made a call to Col. Budy, but he allegedly responded that the police had no dealing with the case because it was not bullet wound.

She says Col. Budy said police were taking care of the bill for the three days she was at the hospital, but her family should go ahead with the treatment on their own.

She says col. Budy was clear that the first payment was based on humanitarian ground because it is not the police’s responsibility to treat anyone who gets hurt in a riot and nobody knows who caused the wound.

The husband of the victim identified as Levi Johnson says when they requested for the medical report, the doctor gave the report to the police before giving the family a copy. Mr. Johnson notes that the medical report says his wife suffered laceration instead of a gunshot.

According to Mr. Johnson, a nurse gave them LD$3,000, saying it was from Col. Budy as a kind gesture from he and his family.He says he called Col. Reeves and asked why they couldn’t see the police at the hospital again, and she allegedly responded that she was removed from the case and Col. Budy had taken charge of the case.

By Ethel A. Tweh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

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