A video clip depicting the torturing of a local on the Sime Darby Plantation by persons believe to be security officers at the Malaysian owned palm plantation has caused outrage here compelling the House of Representative to summon the management.
The suspect, identified as John David in the video, was captured on Facebook being tormented by men believed to be security officers of the Sime Darby Plantation Liberia.
The video footage shows David handcuffed, at the same time with a palm bunch on his head, while he was being tortured. One of the securities in the video is heard asking for a digger and a shovel to bury Suspect David alive.
The company has not been void of controversies since its establishment, especially with locals. The allegations range from land grabbing to alleged brutalities and tortures.
The House of Representatives Tuesday, 17 April in its regular session invited the Sime Darby Company to respond to alleged act of brutality and torture of citizens and employees in and around the company areas of operation, specifically referencing the damaging images of torture of a citizen for allegedly stealing a bunch of palm from the Sime Darby’s farm.
But appearing before the House of Representatives Thursday, 19 April on Capitol Hill, the General Manager of SDPL says the matter was before the Liberian National Police, so he could not comment on it, but lawmakers clarify that case has not gone to court that could prevent him from speaking.
SDPL however maintains that it does not condone any use of physical force, torture or ill-treatment against its employees, even against suspected criminals caught stealing the plantation’s palm fruit. According to SDPL, it is working with the police to identify individuals in the video footage, adding that its Chief of Security has been suspended until facts surrounding the circumstances are established.
But the explanation provided by the Sime Darby Management appears not to have been convincing enough as it (House) went ahead slaping the Sime Darby Plantation Liberia with contempt for allegedly lying under oath.
The lawmakers instructed the company to appear next Tuesday, 24 April for appropriate punishment. They took the decision after the SDPL Management refused to explain what it knows about the video on social media.
But Representative Francis S. Dopoh, who voted against the decision to announce punishment next week, stresses that any punishment that House wants to levy against the company should be taken on the spot instead, rather than asking it to go and come next week, adding that the people of Liberia are looking up to them, members of the 54th Legislature to act accordingly.
He argues that the issue of Sime Darby is not only about Bomi or Grand Cape Mount County, but the entire Liberia, so when the SDPL Management is brought before plenary and begin to act in a hostile manner, it violates their rules at the House.
By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne