The Liberia National Police or LNP has issued warning to citizens here, mainly urging political actors to avoid putting people on the street to stage violent demonstrations, to avoid a “very strong” police force which claims it does not want to misuse its strength.
“We are not telling them because we’re afraid; we are telling them because we are very strong and we don’t want to misuse our strength that is why we are telling people to do away with violence”, Police Spokesman Sam Collins said Saturday, 20 May, as he proxy for Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman at a community policing forum in Clara Town.
“As we move to elections, we are against violence. We are encouraging our mothers, we are encouraging our sisters to avoid violence”, Mr. Collins continued at the meeting held to educate locals against Sexual Gender – Based Violence or SGBV. Already, Mr. Collins says police have been in the 15 counties here and met with 21 registered political parties, seeking their assistance to guide the political season by not putting people on the street for violence.
According to him, the meeting with the community residents including men, women, students and motorcyclists is part of a US$2.3m project sponsored by the Sweden Government in helping to build the LNP’s capacity in community policing in which experts come from Sweden to provide help.
In relations to SGBV issues here, the police spokesman says women’s rights are not supposed to be violated by their husbands and get locked up in rooms, while also encouraging community members to report to zone commanders or to LNP Headquarters any person found abusing women’s rights in the community.
In response to Montserrado County District #14 Women Chairperson Madam Satta Kamara’s concern that police are not working with women in the district in fighting gender issues and crimes, Mr. Collins agreed that the work of the police will be meaningless if they cannot work with the women.
“We cannot be successful if we cannot work with you. Our police work will be meaningless if we cannot work with the communities…” he says and commits the police to work with the women.
As Liberia moves towards elections this October, Mr. Collins says the police are concerned about women’s welfare and security, announcing that authorities at the LNP have ordered all zones and depots here to provide security for women in politics.
“Women in politics will be provided security as they go about campaigning. That does not mean that women who are not in politics will not be provided security”, he adds.
At the meeting were Swedish police experts that are working with the LNP here both on women issues and on general crimes.Those present included Project Manager Stefan M. Hagberg, Sup. Eva Lindwe, Forensic Expert RagnarNordanstg and Crime Expert Thomas Jarnaron.
By Winston W. Parley