Following mass protest Thursday in Congo Town, an alleged raped and tortured victim Justina Taylor, has been released from the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital to her lawyer and human rights authorities here after armed police officers barricaded the hospital where she was receiving medication in what appears to be an attempt to prevent her exit to seek further medication outside Liberia.
Hundreds of angry citizens comprising civil society and human rights groups demanded Justina’s unconditional release from the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Oldest Congo Town, a suburb of Monrovia.She has been seeking medication there for several weeks while police kept guard at the facility.
Justina, who allegedly broke away from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), claims she was kidnapped by group of men, gang raped and tortured nearly to death after making accusations against Monrovia City Mayor and Youth League Chair of the ruling CDC, Jefferson Koijee.It is not known what the police have done about Justina’s claims that she was kidnapped, raped and tortured, but reports say the authorities want her for questioning in connection with the alleged incident.
Protesters dominated by women from different women organizations set roadblocks at the intersection of the Catholic Hospital by early morning hours of Thursday.The protest prevented free flow of traffic as citizens insisted that the government here unconditionally releases Justina to enable her to appear before the United States Embassy near Monrovia for a scheduled interview for a possible medical trip to the United States.
Riot officers from the Liberia National Police (NL) and protesters clashed as the crowd grew massively at the scene, with both sides throwing stones at each other for several minutes.The police carried a tanker filled with water to battle protesters who refused to leave the main road and the Catholic Hospital’s vicinity.Some riot police officers sustained wounds in the process of challenging the angry crowd.
However, government eventually released Justina following intervention by human rights groups Thursday.Due to tense security on the protest scene Thursday, some residents in the Catholic Hospital community closed their doors in solidarity with other citizens that came from far distances to demand Justina’s release.
Earlier, several Senators and high profile Liberians including Montserrado County Senator Darius Dallon also visited the scene and encouraged protesters to hold together as they pressed for Justina’s release from the hospital.There were slogans coming from the angry civilians against the police and the government. They chanted anti rape campaign slogans.
Mohamed Soa, a commercial driver, told reporters at the scene that it was a complete disgrace to the country for the government to abandon one of its female citizens, who had been abused through gang rape.“I left my vehicle on the Old Road in order to join my friends in demand of Madam Taylor’s release,” he says.
During the police presence, no vehicles and visitors were allowed to enter the hospital’s premises.Information obtained from the riot scene indicates that high profile state security personnel were posted inside the hospital facility to ensure that Justina remains confined there.
Some women organization representatives who, preferred anonymity for fear of their safety termed the government’s action to prevent Justina from going for advanced medical examination and treatment abroad as an arrest of a victim, who is in fact, the complainant.
Addressing reporters minutes before Justina was signed for and taken away by one of her legal representatives Mr. Adama Dempster, the lawyer said following a meeting with the Ministry of Justice, it was agreed that the victim be placed in her lawyers’ care until her return from her medical trip.
He discloses that Justina will pick up her case upon improvement of her health condition, adding that they would negotiate with the U. S. Embassy to reschedule the interview with the victim to enable her to seek medical attention abroad.
Since the alleged victim reported her pathetic state of medical condition to the public, the government is yet to arrest any culprits or announce that it was constituting any investigation to establish the circumstances leading to the incident.By Emmanuel Mondaye–Edited by Winston W. Parley