Four leading institutions working on democracy, governance and accountability in Liberia have criticized the government for having imposed a State of Emergency which they think has made no significant difference in Liberia’s response against COVID-19.
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia), Accountability Lab Liberia and Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) say the measures announced by authorities are not being observed by citizens and even security officers responsible to enforce the mandates.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the four organizations wondered how citizens play by the rules when the enforcers are themselves grossly violating safety measures instituted.
They warn that if this trend continues, the country’s fight against COVID-19 will be undermined, thereby putting the population at risk.
The groups disclosed that the disbursement of $6,000 to members of the Liberian Legislature as purported operational funds is unfortunate, especially during this critical period when the legislators will ignore enormous challenges faced by the health and other critical sectors to seek their personal interest.
The statement notes that money given to lawmakers amid approval of the president’s State of Emergency and Stimulus Package is tantamount to corruption and bribery.
According to the statement, the government should be more concerned about the plights of health workers, teachers, civil servants and vulnerable citizens.
The groups express concern about accountability for resources and donations from foreign governments, partners and diverse resources for the fight agent COVID-19.
They warn against the repeat of the abuse of resources during the fight against Ebola in 2014, mismanagement of the US$25 million meant for the mop up exercise, among others.
The organizations further express disappointment that authorities have not regularly updated the public about the total pledges and actual monies and other resources received so far, to fight against COVID-19.
They urge the government not to lose track of its accountability responsibility to the public and ensuring that resources received are judiciously allocated and expended.
The four CSOs’ joint statement says that since the State of Emergency came into force on Friday, April 10, 2020, they have observed numerous human rights violations by state security actors including harassment, flogging and other abuses committed against peaceful citizens.
They condemn these alleged actions by the authorities and call on the Government of Liberia to fully respect and protect the rights of citizens during this period.
On the other hand, the organizations condemn violence against state security by unscrupulous individuals, including the incident in West Point that caused severe injuries to a police officer.
The organizations join health and other authorities to admonish the public to fully respect and observe all measures announced as effective means of preventing further spread of the virus as well as consolidating efforts to eradicate it.
The groups add that with an inclusive and concerted fight, led by institutions and individuals with the requisite mandates and proven capabilities and experience, Liberians will win the war against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the statement urges that civil society organizations be accorded full respect and given the space to operate.
According to the groups, the leaderships and essential staffs of CSOs must be equally allowed to work, as they play vital roles in creating awareness, providing valuable inputs to government as well as independently monitoring and reporting on key trends and decision-making processes around the fight.
They call on the government to fully support the health sector, decentralize testing and isolate, among others.
By Emmanuel Mondaye–Edited by Winston W. Parley