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Gov’t accepts findings on West Point

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaThe Government of Liberia has agreed to implement recommendations from findings submitted by the Joint Task Force Board of Inquiry established by the Ministry of National Defense, and the Independent Human Rights Commission on the August 20, 2014 shooting in West Point Township that led to the death of a lad, Shaki Kamara and another teenager, Titus Nuah, seriously injured.

The report by the Joint Task Force Board of Inquiry was received by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on 9 September, while a second report by the Independent Human Rights Commission was received by the President on October 28, 2014.

It recommends that four enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia who were involved in the West Point shooting should be seriously penalized.

Upon receiving the first report, President Sirleaf instructed the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia to take the appropriate measures in identifying and investigating those personnel of the AFL who were responsible in conformity with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

The military requested additional time to adhere to and fulfill the processes of the UCMJ leading to a delay in the presentation of the first Report to the Public. In keeping with the processes and procedures of the UCMJ, a special Disciplinary Board of the Armed Forces needed to be set up, further investigation conducted, and findings presented to the President and Commander-In-Chief along with appropriate recommendations.

These processes and procedures have been concluded and the results of the investigation by the Disciplinary Board of the Armed Forces of Liberia have been presented to the President.

Findings from the Disciplinary Board of the AFL concluded that a Platoon Commander and four enlisted men were guilty of indiscretion and exhibited indiscipline on August 20, 2014 in the Township of West Point.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Aloysius Quaye, Platoon Commander, has been held responsible for poorly assessing the situation and acting contrary to the behavior expected of a military leader in the reformed AFL.

The report notes that as a leader in a situation of crisis, Commander Quaye was “expected to show efficient command after serving in the AFL for over five years” with local and foreign trainings. The report says he should have been able to handle simple crowd control and dispersal, but as a military leader, he did not follow proper military procedures in selecting personnel to fire warning shots.

Although no evidence was adduced that any of the personnel of the AFL fired the fatal shot that killed Shaki Kamara, the Disciplinary Board thought it absolutely necessary to institute punishment for behavior unbecoming of a serving personnel of the Armed Forces.

As such, Lieutenant Aloysius Quaye, Platoon Commander is guilty of violating Article 133 of the UCMJ regarding the unbecoming conduct of an officer or gentleman; guilty of Article 92-C of the UCMJ regarding dereliction in the performance of duty.

The punishment prescribed under the UCMJ includes; reduction in rank to the lowest rank permissible under the category of the accused; two (2) years loss of seniority with consequential effects; thirty (30 days) correctional custody; thirty (30) days detention; forfeiture of 2/3 salary for 3 months; and Letter of Severe warning.

Additionally, the following enlisted personnel of the AFL were found guilty of various offences of the UCMJ. They include; Corporal Mulbah Timothy, who violated Article 128 of the UCMJ regarding assault and arbitrary use of force; Corporal Flomo Anthony, who also violated Article 128 of the UCMJ regarding assault and arbitrary use of force as well as Article 134 regarding threat in communicating; Corporal Toure Patrick violated Article 107 of the UCMJ regarding false statements; Private First Class Salebia Moses also violated Article 107 of the UMCJ regarding making false statement.

The Commission has also set a prescribed punishment for the four enlisted men, which includes; reductions in rank to the next lower rank; 30 days correctional custody; 30 days detention; and also letters of severe warning.

The Commander-In-Chief has directed that all punishments be carried out in compliance with the relevant provisions and practices of the UCMJ. The second Report from the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) was presented to the President of Liberia on October 28, 2014 with the following recommendations: that the Government should improve the living conditions of its citizens living in West Point; and that the Commissioner of West Point Township should be reassigned.

The Government notes that all slum communities should be rebuilt and developed with emphasis on transforming lives of citizens. The Minister of Internal Affairs has been mandated to reassign the Township Commissioner.

And to the late Shaki Kamara, the Commission recommends that the President of Liberia extends a public apology to the family, including monetary compensation.

The Government, in August, extended heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Shaki Kamara, and President Johnson-Sirleaf visited the family to express deepest sympathy. The President will continue to publicly apologize to Shaki Kamara’s family and all those who were hurt by the unfortunate occurrences of the  August 20, 2014 fracas.

Meanwhile, consistent with the recommendation, the President will invite and work with the Interreligious Council to determine the compensation for the family of Shaki Kamara. “We note sadly, however, that for this government, no monetary value will compensate for the life of a human being, or in this case, a Liberian citizen. We view our duty as enabling the lives of all of our citizens”, read a statement issued here by the authorities.

As to recommendation by the Commission that a health center be erected in memory of Shaki Kamara, the Government says it will endeavour to renovate and equip the West Point Community Clinic to the memory of Shaki.

The Commission also recommends that Titus Nuah be flown to Accra, Ghana for further treatment to be accompanied by a family member and the physician who operated on him at the S.D.A. Cooper Hospital in Monrovia, while Sylvester Kromah, who sustained injuries from barbwires while trying to escape the shooting be compensated.

The Government accepts this recommendation unreservedly and has promised to carry out its obligation in coming days, but notes that the issue of compensation will be discussed with the Interreligious Council, still convinced however, that valuation of life is beyond monetary values.

As for Mr. Alfred Nagbe who was wrongly “accused of stealing a generator,” the Commission recommends that the Liberia National Police (LNP) render a public apology to him and that the government compensate him with money.

The Commission assured that when the shooters are identified, they be stripped of their immunities, if any, and tried or prosecuted in a Court of law for their reckless disregard for Shaki Kamara’s right to life and Titus Nuah’s right to a safe environment and protection of his person by the Government.

To this important end, the Government of Liberia has instructed the Ministry of Justice to invite all witnesses to the shooting to help in identifying those who were responsible. The President has further instructed that as soon as such persons are identified, they must be charged and held accountable before the laws of the Republic.

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