The Government of Liberia seems increasingly paranoid by unfolding happenings in the country and has clearly adapted what appears to be scare tactics by pursuing and indicting individuals for their comments with threats of prosecution only to U-turn abruptly under the canopy of so-called reconciliation that seems far from reality.
Barely 24 hours, have the authorities here dropped charges against the opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) political leader Simeon Freeman and indicted self-proclaimed advocate Vandalark Patricks, who were pursued separately for their comments on the suspicious death of Mr. Harry Greaves, Jr., former managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company and other security concerns.
Late Tuesday, the Liberia National Police dropped “all perceived claims and charges against Mr. Freeman, and declare that Mr. Freeman is no longer wanted for questioning on concerns growing out of his utterances that the Government of the Republic of Liberia had a list of politicians to eliminate”, following nearly four months of serious pursuit against the MPC leader, who escaped his home and went in hiding.
And then on Wednesday, this week, state prosecutors at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia dropped all charges against self-proclaimed advocate Mr. Vandalark Patricks, indicted in February this year for alleged sedition and criminal libel against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
“That though the Government believes that it was right to press legal action against the defendant to deter others from the abuse of freedom of speech as enshrined in the organic law of the land, the Constitution of Liberia, Government however elects to exercise its right as provided in Chapter 18 Section 18.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia by dropping all charges against Defendant Vandalark Patricks without any reservation,” prosecution argued.
The two scenarios clearly demonstrate the authorities in earnest, had no intention to pursue their claims in court, and obtain justice, but to raise the sticks and scare citizens into silence. Patricks’ lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, immediately excepted to the prosecution’s request Wednesday to dismiss the indictment, contending “government should not abuse the right of its citizens by arresting them and getting them indicted under criminal laws that are not supported by the constitution …. Only to ask court to dismiss such indictments…”
He further argued it was abused of the rights of citizens, and that such postures were tactics only associated with dictatorship, not democracy.
Story by Jonathan Browne