There are reports of human rights abuses and detention of a number of people in dark rooms at the National Port Authority or NPA under the command of the chief of security of the port, Col. Ashford Peal.
Col. Peal usually orders the arbitrary arrest and detention of these individuals for intruding into the port’s premises without permission. While in this dark cell at the Port, prisoners are allegedly subjected to torture and degrading treatment for days before being released. A local media advocacy group, Media United to Enhance Democracy or MUED has raised serious concerns about such alarming situation at the Free Port of Monrovia.
The group’s head, Sam Collins said they were concerned about the excessive use of power by Col. Peal and others under the guise of constitutional responsibility only to infringe on the rights of innocent Liberians at the port. “We believe such actions are a complete violation of the Liberian law,” he said.
Speaking at a news conference in Monrovia recently, he condemned the inhumane treatment meted against these Liberians by the port security. He called on the management of the port to seriously probe into the matter, noting that it was very damaging for Liberia’s democracy.
When Col. Ashford Peal was contacted by this paper via phone, a man answering the phone said it was the wrong number. But the unidentified man referred the paper to the Public Relations office of the National Port Authority. The Public Relations Officer of the NPA, Henry Smith denied allegations against the Port security involving Chief Security Ashford Peal.
He said the mandate of the port security was not to un-necessarily incarcerate people or arbitrarily arrest them. The name Ashford Peal is associated with the killing of a Special Security Officer in 2006 at the home of the former Director of the SSS, now Immigration Commissioner Chris Massaquoi on GSA Road in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
The death of the SSS officer was a result of a feud between Massaquoi and his former Deputy, Ashford Peal. The death of the SSS officer was swept under the rug, with the transfer of Ashford to the National Port Authority as Chief Security.