Liberia: Police Conduct Autopsy On Slain John Tubman

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Monrovia – An autopsy to determine the cause of death of John Tubman, son of former Liberian President, William V.S. Tubman, was conducted on Wednesday, October 13, Police spokesman, H. Moses Carter, has revealed.

In a telephone interview, the spokesman of the Liberia National Police highlighted that they are awaiting the findings from the autopsy conducted yesterday to determine their next course of action.

“The autopsy was conducted today,” he said. “We are awaiting the pathologist’s result—once foul play has been established, the person of interest will be picked up.”

Though Carter was coy in revealing the identity of the “person of interest”, he hinted that the individual is a male who frequented the house of Tubman. Family sources have also been tightlipped on the identity of the “person of interest.”

Tubman, 76, son of former Liberian President of 27 years, William V.S. Tubman, was found murdered in his home in the suburbs of Sinkor on September 22, 2021, with a rope tied to his neck with facial and stab wounds and a spatter of blood. 

Though the Police have not released the name of its “person of interest”, the death of Tubman has sent jitters down the spine of Liberia’s gay community. In the high Liberian society, the son of the former President was one of the few Liberians who was openly gay. 

It remains unclear whether his death is linked to his sexual orientation, but sources closed to the family say it cannot be ruled out. 

The Coordinator of the human rights coalition, Liberia’s Initiative for the Promotion of Rights, Identity, Diversity and Equality (LIPRIDE), Maxwell Monboe, in a statement said the community remains saddened by the death of Tubman as it is a stark reminder that LGBT people are vulnerable, regardless of status. 

“His death reminds us that every member of the LGBTI community in Liberia, whether rich or poor, our lives are in danger,” he said. Monboe added that it is imperative on the government to protect everyone, including those who identify as sexual minorities. 

“We are calling on the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), the United Nations Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) to take actions against the government for failing to abide brightsan right treaties they signed up to.”

The death of John Hilary Tubman a week ago comes a year following the disappearance of Dominic Renner and Winston Toe. Renner and Toe’s disappearance has been linked to Cheeseman Cole, an ex-soldier of the Armed Forces of Liberia who reportedly used Facebook to “catfish” over 27 men he suspected of being gay. 

LGBTQ Liberians continue to face widespread threats, assault, harassment, and hate speech, according to the 2020 U.S. State Department Human Rights report

Though Cole was arrested and briefly detained at the Monrovia Central Prison, he has been freed on bail awaiting trial. The status of the case continues to remain shrouded in secrecy as the Ministry of Justice appears reluctant to prosecute. Ministry of Justice spokesperson Maude Somah could not be reached for comment. 

LGBTQ Liberians have experienced incessant attacks in the last year. 

Recently, a student of the Trinity United Methodist School was expelled for crossdressing when a viral video on Facebook showed him in a playful but fiery exchange with a female street preacher who had sought to preach damnation upon him.

Two teenagers and a man were beaten in May over suspicion they were gays. The trio claimed they were returning from a wake-keeping ceremony. Though arrests were made, the Ministry of Justice failed to prosecute. They were relocated by human rights organizations for their safety. 

Liberian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. Article 14.74, 14.79, and 50.7 [of the Penal Code of 1976] consider voluntary sodomy as a first-degree misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment.  

Though the country has not defined its stance on the protection of the rights of its LGBT population, Attorney General, F. Musah Dean, during the launch of the UN SOGIE report in November 2020 at a private resort said the Liberian constitution guarantees protection for all.

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