The Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Justice refuses to grant request from the “Council of Patriots”, to assemble peacefully in Monrovia, beginning June 7, 2019, unless it presents legal article of incorporation as an existing body under the laws of Liberia.
The Council of Patriots, a local group, is believed to consist of organizers of the planned June 7 assembly to draw the Weah-led government’s attention to bad governance, corruption, mismanagement of state resources and flagrant violations of the Constitution, among others.
Its recent letter of request dated April 24, 2019, addressed to Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean reads, “We write to inform you of our intention to hold a peaceful assembly scheduled to begin on Friday, June 7, 2019, and potentially last for several days in Monrovia.”
The COP’s letter continues, “During this peaceful assembly, we intent to present our grievances to the President and heads of the Legislative and Judiciary branches in the form of a written petition.”
The communication is signed by several personalities, including Margibi County Senator Oscar A. Cooper, Montserrado County District#8 Representative Yekeh Kolubah, Bomi County Senator Sando D. Johnson, Ambassador Rufus D. Neufville, Mr. Sanjee A. Stepter, Mr. Mohammed Ali, Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon and Boakai Jaleiba, Jr. as advisors and members.
But Liberia’s Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean in an official response here Wednesday, 01 May notes that advisors and members are not officers for the purpose of representing a corporation and/or an unincorporated body, saying, “Therefore, to ensure compliance, the request should be made through the statutory officers of the ‘Council of Patriots’, after having provided documentation to the MOJ that said organization is duly constituted and existing under the laws of the Republic of Liberia.”
Minister Dean however says alternatively, signatories of the letter may elect to submit the request in their individual names, as a group of Liberian citizens, instead.
The Attorney General’s response continues that in reaching the decision, the Ministry of Justice is guided by Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Article 17 in Chapter III of the Constitution under the heading, Fundamental Rights states: All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations.
Minister Dean further stresses the Ministry is under obligation to deal with institutions/associations registered and existing under the laws of Liberia, by and through their legal offices, adding, “… as we request that you provide us a legal documentation, establishing legal status as ‘Council of Patriots’, either as a duly incorporated or unincorporated association in pursuant to the requirements of the Association Law of Liberia.”
Section 41.2 of the Association Law states, “…Every unincorporated association after its organization shall execute a certificate, signed, sworn to by its president and treasurer, stating the names of such incorporated association; date of its organization, number of its members, names and residences of its officers and a description of the purpose for its organization.”
It remains to be seen whether the COP would comply accordingly or whether the government’s official stance means the planned June 7 assembly would not hold as planned. Story by Jonathan Browne