MONROVIA – The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) has warned Liberian politicians that are bent on instigating violence to intimidate their political opponents to desist or face “serious” consequences.
By: Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
INCHR is clothed with the authority protect and promote human rights in Liberia.
In a statement issue in Monrovia on Thursday through its Chairperson, Cllr. T. Dempster Brown, the INCHR said it is appalled by the wave of lawlessness that has occasioned the processes leading to Liberia’s crucial October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
“INCHR particularly wants to raise concern to the spike of violence and hate statements that have been made by political leaders in recent times,” the Human Commission said.
“INCHR cautions politicians to be mindful of statements that have the tendency to draw the supporters of rival parties into chaos and violence, something which would undermine peaceful elections and render citizens and residents vulnerable to injuries and loss of lives.”
The Commission said the 1985 Constitution of Liberia and other international human rights laws recognize the right to freedom of expression and assembly. However, while these rights are guaranteed, the restriction imposed by these human rights laws clearly prohibits actions that threaten public order and national security, among others.
It said: “NCHR reminds political leaders that pre and post-election violence that are engineered by politicians would have serious legal consequences. INCHR take notes of the election violence in other countries and notifies all actors that international human rights instruments including the Statute of the International Criminal Court which Liberia ratified in 2004 are applicable at all times.
“NCHR avers that those who believe that they can incite violence and chaos without accountability are living in illusion, because the INCHR has vowed to prevail on the national community to sanction those who engage in violence that lead to the violation to the right to life.”
The INCHR’s warning comes in the wake of an attack on the Christ Chapel of Faith Church of Senator Prince Y. Johnson on Sunday by the National Patriotic Party (NPP) Youth Wing, disrupting normal service.
Members of the NPP Youth Wing, dressed in their NPP and CDC regalia, holding banners and placards, chanted anti-PYJ slogans and stormed the Church’s compound.
The group said they had gathered to protest against Senator Johnson’s “planned outburst against Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, as well as his continued misuse of the pulpit to denigrate President Weah and his officials. They chanted war crimes court slogan, and left Senator Johnson and his wife, along with his congregation stranded for sometimes in the Church’s compound before leaving.
Condemning the NPP Youth, the INCHR said: “The action by the group of youth under the banner of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) Youth Wing to disrupt church services at the Christ Chapel of Faith was awful and should be condemned. INCHR reminds all Liberian politicians to avoid using young people to create havoc and chaos during this electoral period.”
Liberians, the Human Rights Commission asserts, should learn to settle their grievances though peaceful and legal means short of violence.
The Commission then called on the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to take immediate steps to ensure those that are involved in these violent acts are arrested and prosecuted consistent with due process of law.