Liberia: Health Worker Fears Her Life Is At Risk; As NSA Continues ‘Harassment, Intimidation’
MONROVIA – After four successive interrogations, each lasting over four hours, Ms. Felicia O. Toe, says the National Security Agency (NSA) continues to psychologically torture, harass and intimidate her over suspicion that she leaked information on COVID-19 test results from the National Reference Laboratory to the public.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
In a communication to the Chairman of the Independent Human Rights Commission, a copy of which FrontPageAfrica has obtained, Ms. Toe stated that the NSA continues harassment has become life-threatening and called for the intervention of the Commission.
She stated in the communication: “Honorable commissioner, I am being tortured emotionally and I am undergoing intimidation and harassment without being told what crime I have committed. My phones, email account and social media accounts were searched without any incriminating evidence been found against me. Yet, I am still being subjected to this emotional torture and feel this is a violation of my rights because I have not done anything outside of my duties and terms of reference as a health worker.
“Therefore, I am seeking the intervention of your office into the above-mentioned complaint that I view as life-threatening. In the same vein, I am also copying this communication to the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Liberia National Bar Association, the United States Embassy, the European Union, ECOWAS, and the World Health Organization. I am available for further inquiry.”
Ms. Toe has worked with the Ministry of Health and assigned with the Montserrado County Health Team as a deputy County Surveillance Officer for the past five years. Upon the discovery of COVID-19 in Liberia, she served on the Montserrado County COVID-19 response team as a supervisor of the Case investigation Pillar.
She explained that on April 29, 2020 at about 1:30 pm, the Montserrado County Health Officer, Dr. Yatta Wapoe informed her through a phone call, that the Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Dr. Mosoka Fallah wanted to speak with her.
She stated that she then called Dr. Fallah and he requested for a meeting at NPHIL head office.
“Honorable commissioner, I am being tortured emotionally and I am undergoing intimidation and harassment without being told what crime I have committed. My phones, email account and social media accounts were searched without any incriminating evidence been found against me. Yet, I am still being subjected to this emotional torture and feel this is a violation of my rights because I have not done anything outside of my duties and terms of reference as a health worker.”– Ms. Felicia Toe stated in her communication to the Independent Human Rights Commission
Ms. Toe: “I did not know the nature of the meeting but assumed it was related to the COVID-19 response, so I asked two other members of the case investigation team to accompany me. During the meeting with Dr. Fallah and another gentleman (introduced as an NSA agent), we were accused of leaking COVID-19 test results to the public. The NSA officer later singled me out by asking me if I was Felicia Dweh (my Facebook name), which I affirmed. He demanded that we submit our cell phones to him and we did. The meeting ended and we were told that the NSA would invite us to another meeting for further investigation.”
She disclosed that two days later, Mr. Sam Saryon, deputy director of the NSA called her and requested her to report to the NSA office with her lawyer for investigation. The investigation, according to her, centered around her scope of work, political affiliation and her association with the press.
“Since then, I have had over 4 successive interrogation sessions, each lasting over 4 hours, where I have given a written statement, been threatened to be jailed, had my finger prints and mug shots taken and even asked to take a lie detector test. My phones were confiscated from me without any search and seizure notice and after 7 days were returned to me with one of my phones being damaged,” she stated in the letter.
Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh in an interview with FrontPageAfrica last week confirmed the investigation of health workers and described as “unhealthy” the alleged disclosure of Covid-19 results of key government officials to the public.
“Some investigations are going on. To what degree the investigations have gone, I don’t know. Maybe after the investigations, it may come over to us. We all have to be very mindful of the kind of information that we put out, especially when it has the tendency to affect the public good,” he said.
He maintained that the release of unofficial information to the public during the fight against a pandemic has the propensity of stirring confusion in the country.