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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Chief Zoe spends night in prison

-For failing to produce abducted girls from Sande bush

The detention of Chief Zoe Nora Samuels at the Monrovia Central Prison for failing to produce three young women allegedly forced into a Sande Bush to undergo FGM sends the strongest message ever for the fight against FGM.

Tuesday, April 9-Criminal Court ‘A’ has remanded Chief Zoe Nora Samuel at the Monrovia Central Prison for failing twice to bring the living bodies of three young women who were allegedly forcibly taken away, detained, and initiated in the Sande Society along the Marshall Highway.

According to our court correspondent, Judge Roosevelt Willie’s decision was triggered by a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed on April 4th, 2024, before Criminal Court “A” by the Organization for Women and Children and Community Health Care Initiative.

Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Swaliho Sesay, representing the defendants, rejected the petitioner’s lawyers’ claim, stating that the Petitioners were without standing to file the writ, as the parents of the girls did not give the Petitioners their consent to file a writ or lawsuit on their behalf.

The petitioners’ lawyers, including Cllr. Sennay Carlor II, Atty. Mmonbeydo Nadine Joah & Atty. Facia Harris, on Tuesday, April 9, argued that one of the young women (name withheld) is 22 years old, an adult, who was forcefully taken to the Sande bush by the defendants against her will, and as such, believes that Habeas Corpus will lie as provided by law and according to Article 21 of the Constitution of Liberia which state that “ The right to the writ of habeas corpus, being essential to the protection of human rights, shall be guaranteed at all times, and any person arrested or detained and not presented to court within the period specified may in consequence exercise this right ..

The court held two Zoes in contempt for refusing to respect the Court’s order. The Judge, in his ruling, released one of the Zoes to bring the young women before the Court while the other, Nora Samuel, was committed to the Monrovia Central Prison pending adherence to the Court’s writ.

While one of the Zoes is incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison, they will bring the children on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

On February 6, 2023, the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia (NACCEL), through its Chairperson, Chief Zanzan Karwor, made a historic proclamation to ban the practice of FGM in Liberia. Chief Zanzar Karwor declared, “By the power vested in me by all the Paramount Chiefs of the 15 political divisions in Liberia and signed by myself… FGM is banned in Liberia.” 

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 Previously, in 2018, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed an executive order on the Domestic Violence bill to ban FGM on girls under 18 years old. However, the ban expired in February 2019. The government of Liberia and its partners continue to work closely on the issue of ending FGM in Liberia, including proffering legal reforms.

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