Liberianhuman rightslawyer, Cllr. T. Dempster Brown, has launched a stinking attack against the government here for the recent arrest of protesting citizens in Butaw, Sinoe County, southeast Liberia.
Cllr. Brown noted that the U.S.State Department’s recent human rights report on Liberia made specific reference to citizens’ rights being violated. “We agree with the State Department report, which says many Liberians are in the constant habit of violating the rights of their citizens”, he said.
According to him, the government continues to violate the rights of her citizens, adding “By ill-treating citizens of Butaw,Sinoe County is a clear indication that this government lacks the ability to take proper care of her citizens in a peaceful manner.”
Addressing a news conference Wednesday, 19 August at his office on Ashmun Street, Cllr. Brown expressed frustration over the Ministry of Justice, especially the Liberia National Police for allegedly torturing citizens of Butaw, which led to the death of one protestor, Fred Thompson in prison, while awaiting trial.
According to him, 20 individuals were arrested in SinoeCounty, specifically in ButawDistrict by the government through the Liberia National Police for the recent riot that occurred in the county between citizens of Butaw and an Indonesian company, Golden Veroleum Liberia or GVL, which is investing in oil palm production.
Cllr Brown warns that a prison compound should not become a torture ground where the police will go and torture inmates, explaining that Article 21 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberiastates that anyone, who has been arrested and charged should be given speedy trial and that they are presumed innocent until final ruling by jurors.
He said the government intentionally imprisoned youths of Sinoe by including among the charges brought against them, arm robbery, which is a non-billable offense here. He also accused local officials of the county, including Superintendent Romeo Quaiahfor allegedly plotting against their own people in an effort to seek greener pasture, saying, “We will not sit and allow our citizens to suffer, because we from the Center for the Protection of Human Rights are dispatching six criminal lawyers to Sinoeto defend the youths that are placed behind bars and defeat this government in the court”.
On 26May this year, youths of Butaw district converged at the entrance of Golden VeroleumLiberia’s premises in Sinoeto present their plight to a visiting vice president of the company, but they were disallowed into the compound, which resulted to violence and vandalization of company’s assets.
The Liberia National Police subsequently arrested 30 suspects, but seven of those arrested were released due to lack of evidence. Assistant police director for operation, Gregory W. Coleman, said those detained after preliminary investigation have been charged with multiple crimes, including Rioting and Failure to Disburse, Economic Sabotage, Armed Robbery, Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder, Aggravated Assault, Terroristic Threats, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Conspiracy, Theft of Property, Burglary, Kidnapping, Felonious Restraint and Disorderly Conduct, respectively, By Lewis S. Teh -Editing by Jonathan Browne