Liberia: CSO Platform Wants Senate Halt Confirmation Hearing amid Covid-19 Concerns But Supreme Court Denies Petition

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Mr. Adama Dempster said it is unfortunate that the Supreme Court would refuse to place a prohibition on the public hearings at the Senate despite the national health emergency regulations that ban gatherings in large numbers

MONROVIA – The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform has condemned the Liberian Senate for breaching the established health protocols amid Covid-19 by holding confirmation hearings for recent presidential appointees and inviting the public to witness the hearings.

The rights group challenged the Senate and sought a prohibition on the entire confirmation hearing from the Supreme Court of Liberia.

The Justice in Chamber, Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie, however, denied the petition, something which left the CSO Platform in disappointment.

“Others including churches and marketers have suspended every livelihood activity in line with the health protocols, but the Senate still continues to carry activities that promote large gathering and this is unfair to those observing the protocols.  But unfortunately for us at the Supreme Court, the Justice in Chamber refused to yield to our request to issue a writ of prohibition to stop the Senate,” said Adama Dempster, Secretary of the CSO Platform.

“The Senate is responsible to make laws and should be the one to begin obeying the laws it makes; notwithstanding, it has failed to enforce the emergency health measures and protocol,” the group said.

“The action of the House of Senate to conduct public hearings undermines the proclamation made by the executive toward the fight of this global pandemic that has infected over 700,000 people with approximately 33,000 deaths, is outrageous and poses danger to the livelihood of the Liberian community,” the group stated.

“Others including churches and marketers have suspended every livelihood activity in line with the health protocols, but the Senate still continues to carry activities that promote large gathering and this is unfair to those observing the protocols.  But unfortunately for us at the Supreme Court, the Justice in Chamber refused to yield to our request to issue a writ of prohibition to stop the Senate”

Adama Dempster, Secretary-General, Civil Society Human Rights Platfrom

In the petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed with the Supreme Court, the civil society group argued that the action of the Senate to continue public gatherings, public hearings and public events give the impression that the restrictions were designed to give preference to the Senate over other citizens and residents of Liberia.

The Rights group further lamented that some of its members are prevented from carrying out their vocations; some salaries have been reduced; others who have been promised employment are now without hope because of the uncertainty placed on the country by the coronavirus outbreak.

The petition: “The disease. Has the greatest effect in developed countries such as the United States of America and Italy. Petitioner says countries provide humanitarian and developmental supports to Liberia because Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Now that most of the developed countries are hard hit by the virus, it is, even more, scaring for us not to follow the protocols to include social distancing of six-foot apart. Despite the grave danger posed by the virus, the 1st Respondent (Senate) continues to engage in public meetings and interactions which has the propensity to readily spread the disease, especially when our health system is challenged, thus incapable to handle a major outbreak.”

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