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Appreciating Independent Board of Inquiry

As part of the measure against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, the Government of Liberia, through President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, last Wednesday announced a nationwide curfew and the quarantining of the Township of West Point in Central Monrovia and Dolo Town in Margibi County.

The government’s decision to quarantine these communities was against the backdrop of the threat of the spread of the Ebola virus to other communities, especially after some West Point residents, mostly youth had violently looted and vandalized facilities of the holding unit for suspected Ebola cases established in the township by the Ministry of Health. Movements to and from the township were restricted to health workers.

The quarantining of West Point and subsequent deployment of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, Emergency Response Unit or ERU and Police Support Unit or PSU were, of course, greeted with violent protests by angry residents, mainly youth. In an effort to ensure law and order amid the throwing of missiles by the violent protesters, three persons sustained  severe injuries- one of whom is reported to have died at a local hospital in Monrovia.

While some attributed the wounds to the barb wires set up as a barricade, others apportioned blame on gun shots allegedly fired by the AFL- an allegation that has since been denied by the Defense Ministry and AFL. Even though calm has returned to the Township of West Point, there is still an unfinished business- i.e, the shooting incident.

As a result of the graveness of the situation, as well as concerns being raised by the public and the human rights community, an independent board of inquiry has been constituted. Expectations are that a probe into the incident, with the objective of establishing the actual facts, will be expeditiously conducted.

As we anticipate this investigation, we can only hope that the independent board of inquiry will be inclusive of the United Nations so that the findings and recommendations will be free of prejudice or favor. And at the end of it all, there would be a complete understanding of the West Point shooting incident in the interest of justice and the country.

We think the decision to set up an independent board of inquiry is one that all Liberians must welcome outside of comments and actions that would be inimical to the whole process. In view of the foregoing, we must all give the board the opportunity to perform its duties so that the truth of the matter can be established.

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