Liberia: Human Rights Commission Calls For Transparent Investigation Into Auditors-Related Deaths

Mr. Colley maintained that government should not relent to hold anyone found culpable accountable for their actions which resulted to the deaths of the Liberian auditors when it a “foul play” is established.

MONROVIA – The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INHRC) has underscored the need for the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah to guarantee a transparent and impartial investigation into circumstances which led to the mysterious deaths of four auditors in Liberia.

It can be recalled that on Thursday, October 2, 2020, the lifeless bodies of the Assistant Commissioner for Internal Audit and acting Manager for Tax Payers Services at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) were found in a vehicle on Broad Street in Monrovia during the early morning hours.

Two days later, another auditor from the LRA, Mr. George Fahnboto, reportedly died in a vehicle accident around 72nd Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

On Saturday, October 10, the Director of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa was also found dead in his compound along the 72nd Boulevard, outside Monrovia at 2AM.

The Government of Liberia hired pathologists, Dr. Benedict B. Kolee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kpadeh, concluded preliminary stages of separate autopsies at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor located on the Somalia Drive, outside Monrovia in the absent of the deceased family members, including spouses.

The wife, husband and other family members of the deceased rejected the conduct of the autopsies on grounds that both Dr. Kolee and Dr. Kpadeh are employees of the Ministry of Health and the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital respectively.

But according to the Chairperson of the INCHR, Mr. Bartholomew Colley, all investigative processes should be done in an orderly and unbiased manner.

He made these comments in a telephone interview with FrontPage Africa recently.

Mr. Colley maintained that government should not relent to hold anyone found culpable accountable for their actions which resulted to the deaths of the Liberian auditors when it a “foul play” is established.

He noted that government is under obligation to promote and protect the civil and political rights of its citizens, and as such, the necessary actions must be taken void of interference to bring the perpetrators (if any) to justice.

He added that though the commission cannot speculate the outcome of the ongoing probe into the mysterious deaths of the top Liberian auditors, anyone found liable for the deaths of the auditors should not go with impunity.

Mr. Colley noted that regardless of status or political affiliation, the laws of the country must be scrupulously implemented.

 “The process or investigation should at all times be transparent because the government has the responsibility of upholding fundamental human rights of all citizens. It’s our trust that the government takes the necessary decisions to ensure that the process will be transparent. If there is culpability-of course accountability is subject”.

He called on all parties concerned to cooperate with the ongoing probe.

Meanwhile, Mr. Colley has welcomed the move made by President Weah to call for the intervention of the United States government into the investigation of the mysterious deaths of the auditors.

Following the deaths of the auditors, the Liberian Chief Executive, in a radio address to the nation, sought the assistance of the United States government to probe the mysterious deaths of the auditors who died in a course of eight days.

“With assistance from our partners, we will be able to determine the cause of death. Death should come naturally, anything to the contrary is unacceptable”, President Weah stated.

Mr. Colley indicated that though the commission cannot preempt the outcome of the fragmentary investigation, a call for international assistance is in the right direction.  

“We join the government to call on international partners to come and help us so that we can have a clear picture of exactly what is obtaining. The commission cannot predict the investigation; the commission will wait for the outcome of the investigation”.

He, however, urged citizens to refrain from violence and remain calm in the wake of mysterious happenings in the country.

The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) of Liberia was established by an Act of the National Legislature in 2005 as the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in Liberia.

The establishment of the INCHR came out of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Accra on the 18th of August 2003 that stressed the need to address the wanton disregard and disrespect for human rights which in part led to and characterized the Liberian civil war. In addition, the INCHR was set up in line with the Paris Principles of 1993.

Although established in 2005, the Commission was not functional until 2010 when the first Board of Commissioners was appointed by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Key Functions
The INCHR, is empowered by articles 3 and 4 of its Act to: a) promote and protect human rights throughout the Republic of Liberia; b) investigate complaints of human rights violations and conduct hearing; c) propose amendments or reform to laws, policies and administrative practices and regulations; and d) advice the Government on the implementation of national and international human rights standards.

Also in line with its Act, the Commission submits quarterly and annual report on the human rights situation of the country to the head of the three Branches of the Liberian Government: the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary.

The INHCR submits thematic and/or incidence reports as may be deemed necessary to the general public on various human rights issues. Further, as an extension of its work described in the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act, the Commission is responsible to follow-through on the implementations of the TRC recommendations.