President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written the Liberian Senate seeking permission to invoke restrictions on certain rights under the Liberian Constitution under the state of emergency as the country continues its fight against the Ebola virus disease.
The President’s two-page communication addressed to the Senate, subsequently read in its Plenary Tuesday seeks to among others restricts certain religious practices that have the propensity of further spreading the Ebola virus during this national State of Emergency and a national health crisis.
The request, if granted by the Senate, would lead to the close monitoring of certain religious practices in the country by the government, while legal penalties will be served on violators if they do contravene the norms that will be prescribed by the president.
The communication further seeks to restrict certain freedoms of speech, including in print, electronic alerts and verbal, that has the tune to undermine the statutory power of the state of emergency and that of the issue of assembly.
According to the president, the restriction is intended to fast-track the eradication of the deadly Ebola virus. President Sirleaf expressed high anticipation from the senators that the communication will be endorsed immediately.
Article 11 of the Liberian Constitution that (a) All persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the rights of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining the security of the person and of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution, while (b) states that all persons, irrespective of ethnic background, race, sex, creed, place of origin or political opinion, are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution.”
Article 86 of the constitution which states that (a) “the President may, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, proclaim and declare the existence of a state of emergency in the Republic or any part thereof.
Acting pursuant thereto, the President may suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in this Constitution and exercise such other emergency powers as may be necessary and appropriate to take care of the emergency, subject, however, to the limitations contained in this Chapter.” The state of emergency does not squarely state which rights of citizens shall be limited during the state of emergency.