Take Away Firearms From Irresponsible State Security Officers; Liberia Cannot Afford Another Innocent Death Caused By Recklessness


THE ALLEGED KILLING of Mildred Kumba Lansanah-Tamba, a resident of Stephen Tolbert Estate community on June 27 by an officer of the elite unit of the Liberia National Police has renewed concerns about controlling firearms within the country’s state security agencies.

JAMES E. DOMO’S alleged action clearly shows that strict regulations are needed to ensure those possessing firearms are responsible and have value for life. Assigning firearm to officers should come with the utmost care based on a rigorous background check of that officer.

POLICE investigation has established that Dumo “recklessly” caused the death of Mildred with his police service Smith and Wesson 9mm pistol during the early morning of June 27, 2020 while she was returning from a birthday party at the View Point Community.

THE PURPOSE of assigning a service firearm to a law enforcement officer is for him or her to protect life and property. It is not to be used recklessly and cause harmless citizens to loss their lives. International protocol suggests that law enforcement officials have a vital role in the protection of the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

MEANWHILE IN LIBERIA, there have also been accusations from communities that police officers shield or aid armed robbers by supplying these bandits with materials including uniforms and firearms to terrorize community members. 

ALTHOUGH these allegations are yet to be proven, we think law enforcement agencies need to do more to investigate officers with bad human rights or criminal records. They might just be the bad apple on the apple tree. These are so called security officers that show very little regard for the life of a human being; these are the ones that would discharge their firearms recklessly and kill innocent people. Our inference is based on the lack of discipline some officers have shown while using their firearms while in the midst of civilians.

WITH THIS recent incident, we think it is time for the police and other security agencies to review their respective firearm policies. Although this dreadful incident does not happen more frequently, we think it has the propensity of undermining the legal purpose of using or assigning firearms to state security officials.

OUR PREMISE is based on international regulations including the document explaining the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations.

ACCORDING to this international convention, “Governments and law enforcement agencies shall adopt and implement rules and regulations on the use of force and firearms against persons by law enforcement officials. In developing such rules and regulations, Governments and law enforcement agencies shall keep the ethical issues associated with the use of force and firearms constantly under review.”

“GOVERNMENTS and law enforcement agencies should develop a range of means as broad as possible and equip law enforcement officials with various types of weapons and ammunition that would allow for a differentiated use of force and firearms. These should include the development of non-lethal incapacitating weapons for use in appropriate situations, with a view to increasingly restraining the application of means capable of causing death or injury to persons. For the same purpose, it should also be possible for law enforcement officials to be equipped with self-defensive equipment such as shields, helmets, bullet-proof vests and bullet-proof means of transportation, in order to decrease the need to use weapons of any kind.

“THE DEVELOPMENT and deployment of non-lethal incapacitating weapons should be carefully evaluated in order to minimize the risk of endangering uninvolved persons, and the use of such weapons should be carefully controlled.”

WE ALSO want to emphasize that local and international laws allow for a law enforcer to carry out their duty by applying non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms and that these officers may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.

DESPITE THESE caveats presented by international and national laws, security officers are often in flagrant disregard for human life by recklessly using their firearm. This is a situation a civilized society MUST not condone! We cannot wait for more lives to be lost before we act.

THE RECKLESS killing of Mildred in cold blood should be a wake-up call for policymakers and state security actors to take serious reform actions. Let us take firearms from irresponsible officers to avert another bloody incident and loss of life.