Liberia: Catholic Bishops Conference Condemns Rising Rape against Women, Children, But Frowns against Death Penalty

CABICOL’s Secretary General, Father Dennis Cephas Nimene, in a brief interview with FrontPage Africa said that violence cannot be used to solve violence, as such the death penalty was not a solution to solving the problem of rape in Liberia

Monrovia – The Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia (CABICOL) has joined voices speaking against the imposition of the death penalty as a mean to curb the increasing waves of rape in Liberia.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]

CABICOL is the assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Liberia who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian Faithful of Liberia.

In a statement issued by CABICOL under the signature of its President, Bishop Anthony F. Borwah of the Diocese of Gbarnga on Tuesday, CABICOL said, while it strongly condemns the ‘diabolical act of violence’ perpetrated against women and children, the death penalty was not the solution.

CABICOL’s Secretary General, Father Dennis Cephas Nimene, in a brief interview with FrontPage Africa also said that violence cannot be used to solve violence, and as such the death penalty was not a solution to solving the problem of rape in Liberia. 

Excerpt of CABICOL’s statement: “In as much as we strongly condemn this nefarious act, the death penalty cannot serve as a remedy to this problem. As Bishops of the Catholic Church, we uphold the teaching of the Church as contained in the revised version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in number 2267 which states that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

CABICOL’s statement comes in the wake of growing calls from some high profile officials and rights advocates, opting for harsh punishments including the death penalty for perpetrators of rape.

CABICOL called for the strict application of the laws against rape, the reeducation of all to the intrinsic values of the human person and the protection of the rights of all, especially of women and children.

It termed the act of rape as a diabolical violence that should have no place in the Liberian society. Rape, the Church stated, is a flagrant violation of the victims and survivors’ inalienable rights that should be protected and defended at all times.

CABICOL’s statement also comes as anti-rape campaigners have embarked on a three-day peaceful demonstration, calling on policy makers to strengthen the judicial system through budgetary allocation to speedily adjudicate cases associated with rape and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) on the court’s docket.

Call to Refrain from Violence

Touching on wide range of national issues of concern, CABICOL also called on Political actors and their followers to refrain from acts of violence.

It can be recalled that in 2019, CABICOL condemned series of violence that were marred by the Montserrado County District #15 By-election.

“Sadly, our cry got little attention as violence seems to be perpetrating itself ad infinitum. Again we call on political actors and their followers to refrain from violence,” the statement said.

Ahead of another election- the December 8, 2020 special senatorial elections and national referendum, there have been increase wave of violence in which ‘reckless and unsavory utterances’ are being made against opposing political parties.

Such uncivil and vulgar statement, the Church said, are not compatible with our societal and cultural values and norms.

Feeding on all these violence and threats, CABICOL added, is the lack of conclusive investigations and actions to enforce the law against wrong doers.

As a result, it noted, that the nation embarks on a tragic course of institutionalized violence and enmity, adding that Liberia cannot afford to thread this path.

It warned that these are early signs that should draw the attention of all Liberians and international partners.

The Church also frowned on the “ugly and creepy culture of militant tendency” where political institutions adorn political symbols rather than national symbols.

Pointing out the wearing of berets, Father Nimene called on political institutions to desist from the practice as it has the propensity to degenerate into to violence.

COVID-19 Fight

Earlier in its statement, CABICOL thanked the Government, partners and health practitioners for the effort in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and called for a straight adherence to the health protocols.

“Let us remember that like the rest of the world, the virus and its raging impact have not abated. There is therefore the need to continue to follow the basic health protocols of washing of hands, wearing of face masks and social distancing until a definite global solution is found.”

Meanwhile, CABICOL’s statement comes amid the reluctance of a huge number of the public including Politicians who, in recent times are breaching the health protocols and staging large gatherings like funerals, football tournament and political rallies.

But Father Nimene said the adherence of the safety measures should be based on people’s true sense of reasoning that it is the right thing to do in order to be safe, and not by others’ actions.