Arrest Warrant for Youth Advocate, Rape Protester Stains Liberia
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH of Liberia under the gavel of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor continues to toy with judges in the lower courts, the latest involving the issuing of an arrest warrant by the Monrovia City Court for the apprehending of child rights activist Abraham M. Keita and others protesting the failure of the government to take action against Rep. Morais T. Waylee (Unity Party-District No.2, Zwedru.
KEITA, led a group of his supporters to the Capitol Building, holding placards demanding that the lawmaker resigns and exonerate himself in the wake of allegations that he raped his 13-year-old niece, as reported by a local daily.
KEITA, 18, IS NO ORDINARY YOUTH. In 2015, he put Liberia on the map when he was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize for his role in demanding justice for child victims of violence and for campaigning for the Liberian Parliament to adopt children’s rights laws.
THIS IS SOMETHING Keita has been doing since he was eleven years old, organizing peaceful demonstrations and petitions, and lobbying for children’s participation to be funded directly from the national budget while ensuring that the rights of young girls and boys are protected by the powers that be.
THIS IS WHY MANY are surprised that the Supreme Court will sit by idly and allow a warrant of such nature to stand and do or say nothing about it while a young man is being threatened with arrest simply for standing up and doing what the government is failing to do.
AT A TIME when real criminals are running around Liberia engaging in a series of armed robberies, when young boys and girls are being attacked, when girls between the ages of seven to fifteen are being raped by big shots in government and other places, the judicial branch decides to add to the misery and plight of the victims by slamming a ‘criminal coercion,’ charge on a youth activist.
STIPENDIARY MAGISTRATE J. KENNEDY PEABODY must be removed from his position immediately and suspended from legal practice for failing to exercise judgment on a rather sensitive issue that it seems nearly ever adult or official in government have turned a blind eye to.
REPRESENTATIVE WAYLEE allegedly committed the act in Monrovia while another relative was visiting from the United States.
THE REAL VICTIMS HERE are the family and friends of the victim who have been tight-lipped since the incident occurred. Even those who want to tell the truth, are continuously suspicious of whom they are talking to.
SADLY, THE ACCUSED LAWMAKER has not even been called in for questioning while authorities including the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Services are sitting on their butts, insisting that they have not received an official incident.
FRONTPAGEAFRICA FIRST reported on May 3, 2017, citing family sources that Representative Waylee allegedly raped the teenager who was living with him. This rape allegedly led to pregnancy and the girl delivered the baby via C-section.
SOME FAMILY MEMBERS have even acknowledged that the lawmaker has accepted responsibility for the pregnancy and promised to care for the teen and the baby girl while publicly denying the allegations.
THE LAWMAKER HAS even been brave enough to tell a news conference last week that journalists should find the girl before making claims. “It is Keita’s right to do his job as an activist, but he must also be willing to take responsibility for his actions,” Rep. Waylee said.
SUCH ASSERTIONS speak to the heart of what is unfolding in Liberia today. So-called big shots are having sexual intercourses with little boys and girls and paying the parents and relatives to keep their silence.
THIS IS EVIDENT in the fact that Deddeh Kwekwe, sexual and gender-based coordinator at the Ministry of Gender, told FPA recently that the ministry’s Grand Gedeh County coordinator went to Waylee’s home, but no one was there. She said the ministry and the county only heard about the story after it was reported in FPA.
ALIEU BILITY, deputy coordinator for women and children’s protection section at the LNP, said recently that the Police are still trying to find the teen to find out exactly what happened in order to launch into a full investigation.
ACCORDING TO HIM, the Police, are working closely with the Gender Ministry on the case. ‘It’s a bit difficult since we can’t find the child. Without the victim, Police cannot invite the accused because it could be considered blackmail. When authorities locate the teen, she will be placed in a safe home managed by the Ministry of Gender while Police investigate the case.”
IT DOESN’T TAKE A ROCKET scientist to determine what is going on here.
KEITA IS RIGHT. “The parents of the girl, who are aware that she is a minor, probably have compromised the case, but I am not deterred in doing my job as an advocate for the rights of Liberian children.”
KEITA WAS QUICK to point out that Varney Jersey, president of the Liberia National Students’ Union (LINSU), is behind bars “even though he is yet to be declared guilty of a rape case against him. I have written the U.S. Embassy and other international bodies, who are in the business of protecting human rights, on what is unfolding with our job and we hope they will step in to properly educate our people on the way to maintain peace with all,” Keita declared.
FOR NOW, authorities want Liberians to conclude that a 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL has suddenly become Mother Mary and born a child without a father.
WE AGREE WITH Madam Estella Nelson, head of Liberia women media action committee, who suggested recently that sexual and gender-based violence is definitely not a priority for the ruling Unity Party-led government. “I think if rape and sexual based-violence was a priority to this government, they would put in mechanisms to improve this menace, right now what we need is laboratory that will help in the process,” she said.
ON PAPER, LIBERIA is the valedictorian of firsts. In 2012, became one of the first countries in Africa to adopt laws protecting children, incorporating both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter.
AFRICA’S OLDEST REPUBLIC is also a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
LIBERIA IS ALSO a nation where women are aggressively advocating for more membership in the national legislature. Thus, we are puzzled over the silence of those already there: Corpu Barclay, Dist. 7, Bong County, Gertrude T. Lamin, Dist. 3, Gbarpolu County, Haja Siryon, Dist. 3 Bomi County, Josephine George Francis, Dist. 1, Montserrado County, Malai G. Gbogar, Dist.2, Gbarpolu County, Mariamu Fofana, Dist. 4, Lofa County, Mary M. Karwor, Dist. 2, Grand Bassa County and Munah Pelham Youngblood, Dist. 9, Montserrado County.
THE CHILDREN OF LIBERIA are in pain, their parents have lost all sense of compassion and are standing by while their kids are being raped, impregnated by grown men. The court which should be the last reprieve for those seeking justice, has sadly become a mockery of anything worth calling justice.
THE BLOOD and pains of these victims are on the gavels of the judicial branch if it continues to allow judges in the lower court to make mockery of our justice system, a system that has become a regular mention in the pages of international reports and on the down side of the condemnation of the world.