Liberia: ANC Secretary-General, Others Temporarily Released from Police Custody; but Lawyer Vows to Follow Legal Course over Violations of Clients’ Rights

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MONROVIA – The Secretary-General of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Counselor Aloysius Toe, and several others have been temporarily released to their lawyer by the Liberia National Police (LNP), days after they were reportedly assaulted, tortured, and raped by unknown state security actors in Gbarpolu County.

The ANC is one of the political parties that make up the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) alliance. Other parties that form part of the CPP include: the former ruling Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP), and the Liberty Party (LP).

It can be recalled that Mr. Toe and several others were re-arrested in Gold Camp, Grand Cape Mount County and taken back to Bopolu, Gbapolu County while on their way back to Monrovia.

The ANC Chief Scribe and others were brought to Monrovia and later detained at the LNP headquarters and charged with espionage.

They had previously gone to the county to provide support to their party’s candidate Botoe Kanneh-who is leading the senatorial race in the county-following a confirmation made by the National Elections Commission (NEC) that an influential chief, for unknown reasons, forcefully took away four ballot boxes assigned to Precinct with Code #45039, comprising four polling places and 2,021 registered voters in Normon Town, Gbarpolu County on December 8, 2020.

Voting in the town, located in District #3, Gbarpolu County, was suspended on Election Day and rescheduled for December 15, 2020.

With more than 95 percent of the votes counted so far from the county, Independent Candidate Botoe Kanneh is leading the candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Rep. Alfred Koiwood of Gbarpolu County Electoral District #1.

Speaking in an interview with reporters shortly after the release of the ANC partisans, the Counselor Kofi Woods disclosed that the rights of Mr. Toe and the others were allegedly violated by the government.

He pointed out that the actions taken to assault, torture and detain Mr. Toe and the others for more than 48 hours, violate international laws, which he did not state.

“We came basically to represent Mr. Aloysius Toe and others. My clients were illegally detained in different prisons and that is a concern to us. This is a violation of international laws and it is a crime against humanity. There are serious consequences and we will pursue the legal course. This is becoming the norm”.   

Cllr. Woods further vowed to pursue other cases involving the violation of the rights of citizens, including electoral violence in other areas, missing individuals, among others.

He pointed out that those cases will be pursued nationally, regionally and internationally.

For his part, CPP Chairman, Alexander Cummings alleged that his party’s Secretary General and several others were treated inhumanely by state security actors while in Gbarpolu County.

His assertions were contained in a statement posted on his facebook page shortly after the release of his partisans.

“I am very glad to have secured, with the help of many, the release of Cllr. Aloysius Toe, Secretary-General, and members of the CPP delegation who were illegally detained by government security agencies for more than five days in Gbarpolu County. The release from further detention of the Secretary-General and all our fellow partisans whose rights were trampled upon and treated inhumanely has brought us great relief”.

Commendation

Mr. Cummings continued: “I want to thank folks in the opposition community, civil society organizations, religious leaders, the press, and our supporters at large for the immediate condemnation of the arrest of Cllr. Toe and others under dubious circumstances”.

He claimed that the arrest of Mr. Toe and the others is an “assault on freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly and association, which are rights that are guaranteed to all citizens by the Liberian Constitution”.

“Unfortunately, this occurrence has increasingly become a new norm under this government, which continues to bring embarrassment and disgrace to our country by these kinds of actions. We will continue to stand up for every Liberian citizen’s rights and freedom, irrespective of their political allegiance or standing in society, and we will explore domestically and internationally what consequences can be brought against those responsible for this lawlessness”.

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