Editorial: The Justice We Demand
On the morning of February 23, Liberians both home and abroad woke up to the horrific news of an attack on the home of former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott. Unknown men had attacked her home on the night of February 22, killing one of her daughters, Charloe Musu, a prospective graduate of the Starz Institute in Monrovia. The attack also left other family members injured, to what degrees are yet to be made public.
The attack came after Cllr. Scott had reported two previous waves of attacks on her home on February 8th and 9th respectively. Neighbors claimed to have heard screaming and called for police intervention, but to no avail.
On the day of the reported incident, former Truth, and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Cllr. Jerome Verdier accused Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee and his Monrovia City Police Deputy for Operations Varlee Telleh as key suspects, though he had provided no documentary evidence as of yet.
However, both Koijee and Telleh have denied any link to the incident at the former Chief Justice’s home during police questioning last week. There are others who have also been called for questioning they include private security guards and workers who had worked in the compound during the day on the same date of the attack.
Cllr. Scott and her household have also been questioned, followed by a visit to the crime scene on Monday by both investigators and the family of Cllr. Scott.
Meanwhile, there have been series of peaceful protests from the coalition of women civil society groups demanding justice for the deceased and speedy trials of culprits who are yet to be identified or charged.
On the other hand, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) whose National Secretary General in the person of Mr. Koijee is being linked to the armed robbery and murder attack has been staging peaceful demonstrations as well, parading with placards and images of the late Charloe Musu, while demanding justice.
The Justice that we demand is the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals. Justice does not rely on the court of public opinion to deliver its verdicts or political chicaneries.
What we are witnessing so far, is the trial of the incident in courts of public opinion based on conspiracy theories before suspects can even be identified and charged, that’s not legal procedures, that’s gossip. And these rumors and conspiracy theories or hearsays only undermine the very justice that we seek.
The justice we demand is a process that follows the rule of law. When we began to use conspiracy theories based on hearsay, it’s called prejudice and it endangers the merits and demerits of the investigative outcomes.
The incident of Angel Tokpa, whose guardians were found guilty in a court of public opinion witnessed by countless protests even before the matter could be adjudicated is an example of how the court of public opinion has never won a case.
As we seek justice for the death of Charloe and others that have gone ahead of her, we can only hope for a fair and thorough investigation based on honesty and professionalism without fear or favor.
Justice is not ignoring the facts and relying on what we think or feel, it establishes the truth, rewards the victim, and punishes the offender. And that is what we seek.