Liberia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, has reminded officers of the Liberia National Police that they are subject to the law, observing that “few officers” sometimes undermine the LNP’s integrity and achievements made so far.
During an official opening of a three-day LNP Internal Retreat Thursday at Mokies Ocean View in Marshall, Margibi County, Minister Sannoh stressed that as per the statue of the Liberia National Police, the police force is subject to the supervision and authority of the Justice Ministry.
He recalled that in the past, the police and other security operatives were used to intimidate the public, but warned that today there is no place for such policing.
In the wake of UNMIL’s gradual drawdown from Liberia, Minister Sannoh said government’s concern will go beyond just training police officers, but “what are the minimum resources required to assign them.”
“We don’t want police people on the streets who don’t have uniforms; but when you look at them they don’t look like police officers,” he said, stressing further that the appearance of police officers will sent a clear message to anybody who wants to try them.
“So for me it’s critical, it’s not just numbers. It could be a small number but that is well-trained, well-equipped and well-resourced to be able to do the job,” said Minister Sannoh.
The Attorney General assured that there will be proper coordination between the LNP and the Justice Ministry as well as all other agencies.
He endorsed plans by Police Director Mr. Chris C. Massaquoi to have police deployed in every county and district in Liberia, describing community policing, nationwide police deployment and gender mainstreaming as “very critical elements.”
But Minister Sannoh says to enhance public confidence in the police, there has to be an effective internal structure to receive complaints from the public and being transparent in handling matters involving LNP officers.
Speaking earlier at the retreat, Police Chief, Chris C. Massaquoi said, the LNP was taking an internal evaluation process to determine its strength and weaknesses and to identify key priority areas for institutional and capacity development.
Among other things, Mr. Massaquoi said the findings from the retreat will also inform the national plan for assuming full security responsibilities from UNMIL by 30 June 2016 as mandated by UN Security Council’s Resolution 21902014.
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Deborah Malac, who graced the event, praised the LNP for the great work it did during the course of the Ebola epidemic; but urged that the police should not rest as there were more to be done.
The retreat is being attended by officers of the LNP, UN partners, among others.
By Winston W. Parley