Liberia: Human Rights Commission Vows to Subject Police Inspector to ongoing Public Hearing Over July 26 Violence
MONROVIA – The Chairman of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Cllr. Dempster Brown says the Commission will do all in its jurisdiction to subject Police Inspector General (IG) Patrick Sudue to its ongoing public hearing into the July 26 Independence Day violence.
Addressing the press on the first day of the hearing, Cllr. Brown said the INCHR has invited key parties to give accounts of the fateful incident to enable the Commission establish the facts and derive at meaningful recommendations to discourage future occurrence.
However, he said the Police Inspector General, Subdue has turned down the INCHR’s invitation on grounds that he is not subject to the Commission’s order. He said despite IG Sudue’s constant disregard of the INCHR, the Commission is determined to ensure he appears for the hearing.
“The problem we have now is the police [Inspector General]. I think you heard that a policeman raped a girl and the Director of police challenged this Commission. And no one is above the law. We had to go to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court said that this man must be indicted and up to this time he has not been indicted,” said Cllr. Dempster Brown.
Continuing, he said “We wrote him a letter concerning what happened on July 26, and invited him to the Commission and he said that he was not subject to order… But he will appear before us. I don’t care what he does.”
The police could not be reached as its public affairs office phone rang with no answer.
Still In Critical Condition
On July 26, 2022, while the Government of Liberia and its bilateral partners and international guests were attending an elaborate program commemorating Liberia’s 175th Independence anniversary at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia, a pro government group, the Coalition for Democratic Change-Council of Patriots (CDC-COP) attacked the University of Liberia-based Student Unification Party (SUP) members in a counter protest at the entrance of the United States Embassy on Snipper Hill, Benson Street.
In a complete antithesis to the spirit and theme of the Independence Day festival – Unity, the pro-government supporters viciously attacked the SUP members, injuring several of them. One of them, Christopher Walter Sisulu Sivili was severely beaten and tortured.
Journalists on the scenes captured live disturbing incidents of pro-government supporters mobbing Sivili. In several videos that went viral on the internet, Sivili is seen surrounded by government’s sympathizers, beaten and stripped naked as members of the Liberia National Police stood by and watched. One of them was caught on camera laughing as the student was being tortured.
It took six days after the incident before police could arrest the alleged perpetrators including executives of the CDC-COP.
Taking the witness stance at the hearing on Monday, the Chairman of SUP, Mustapha Kanneh and the party’s Secretary-general Jusu Kamara, in separate testimonies said Sisilu is currently seeking treatment at an undisclosed health facility but his condition has not improved.
“He cannot talk, sit and stand. He is in severe pain and his condition is getting worse. We ask that you keep him in your prayers,” said SUP Chairman Kanneh.
Kanneh told the hearing that 14 members of SUP were brutalized and sustained major injuries, adding that one of them was kidnapped while on his way to the protest ground. The kidnapped student, he added, was beaten and torture and was discovered two days later after he went missing.
Kanneh said the CDC-COP was heavily supported by the Government to disrupt their peaceful protest and harm them. According to him, the pro-government group stormed the University of Liberia campus early July 26, ransacked SUP headquarters, stoned, beat and chased away some of the party’s members who had assembled on the campus before attacking the others at the U.S. Embassy.
Speaking earlier, Kamara, displaying several photographs of victims of the violence, called on the INCHR to conduct an independent investigation as SUP does not trust the government to justly prosecute the alleged perpetrators.
Cllr. Brown, on behalf of the Commission, thanked SUP for their cooperation and stated that officials of the CDC-COP and the Police Inspector General are expected to appear during the next hearing, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 17.