Liberia’s small arms commission chief and ex-U.S. military serviceman Mr. Marvin M. Sarkor has spoken strongly against the “unethical behavior” seen within security agencies that are carrying weapons in this country, urging that they be held liable for their actions.
“The culture of impunity, we need to erase that in our society,” he said Thursday, 6 December at a stakeholder meeting at Bella Casa under the auspices of Liberia International Humanitarian Law Committee (LIHLC) on the domestications of the Geneva, Kampala Conventions and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Mr. Sarkor says he had a discussion with the National Security Advisor and the Justice Minister the other day and he made it clear that those security agencies that are carrying weapons in this country, “we are seeing negative discharge, we are seeing unethical behavior.”
“They got to be held [liable] for their actions,” he says, and continues that as chairman on National Small Arms Commission, he will make sure that policies are derived, working with lawyers, to hold those guys [liable].
Mr. Sarkor’s comments at come weeks after a deadly gun violence against a personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) by agents of presidential guard Executive Protection Service (EPS) that wounded the AFL soldier and several other persons during a sports match on 18 November in Paynesville.
After probe into the incident, two EPS officers were dismissed and four others suspended for one month each by the National Security Council, with a precondition that they will face retraining after this suspension.
Mr. Sarkor cautions that approving an Arms Trade Treaty in Liberia is not meant to just come up with document, but it should protect citizens “and to make sure [that] those who are carrying weapons in this country” are “responsible enough” when it comes to the Arms Trade Treaty.
The small arms chief recalls that in a meeting with some security agency authorities here, he inquired from them if those that are being entrusted with weapons are vetted extensively, their mental health evaluated and they got police clearances before being issued weapons.
“Because carrying weapon comes with responsibility,” he says, adding that it is the small arms commission’s job to make sure that policy is made that will be used for the smooth operation of these security agencies.As leaders of this nation, he explains that they want to make sure they do everything humanly possible to save this generation, because now is their time.
According to him, he was nine years old at the beginning of Liberia’s civil war and he never really had the opportunity to live as a child.“So this law should be used to protect our generation,” says, adding that he made a clear in a meeting with some of the heads of some security agencies here that as a military personnel, he knows the significance of the Geneva Convention.
Mr. Sarkor recalls that served the U.S. Military for five years and served in Afghanistan for a year during which he personally saw his friends killed and decapitated by Afghan troop when they were captured by taliban.“But when they are arrested by the U.S. Army personnel, we have to abide by the Geneva Convention, to the respect [of] the rule of law,” Mr. Sarkor notes.
He says he has a history where an Afghan taliban’s leg was blown off and he (Sarkor) ensured security for the taliban until he was transported to a medical facility and treated.“So it’s the same thing we need to do here as a country,” he adds.He assures LiNCSA’s commitment to the process to domesticate the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Geneva and Kampala Conventions because they are very significant to Liberia.
Mr. Sarkor underscores the negative impact small arms have on Liberia, and thinks it is prudent that Liberia doesn’t sit back as a nation and fails to implement after crafting, domesticating and legislating the document.
By Winston W. Parley