Liberia: Human Rights Commission Confirms Use of Live Bullets in Recent Barnesville Riot
Monrovia – The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) has confirmed that indeed live firearm was discharged during the riot in the Barnesville Estate Community.
Report by Edwin G. Genowy, Jr., [email protected]
The INCHR’s finding runs contrary to what the Liberian National Police had earlier report released to the public that its officers, who arrived on the scene to put the rioters under control, didn’t use their firearms.
When the riot had subsided on that 27th day of June, it became clear that one lady had been life-threateningly injured on her neck. Bystanders and some rioters blamed the lady’s injury on police officers, who, they said, had fired live bullets to scare the rioters away.
Speaking to journalists, the Acting Chairperson of the Commission, Rev. Bartholomew B. Colley, confirmed that live bullets were discharged by officers of the LNP.
“The recent action and denial of the police is making one to reflect. The Liberia National Police over the years has been under the spot light for some unethical behaviors while carrying out their duties,” he stated.
The local rights commission head insisted that the police did allegedly fire live bullets that led to the injury of Helena Nimely.
His Commission has condemned the action of the police for using live bullet on unarmed rioters in the Kebbah Community of Barnesville.
The riot began when a group of angry youth decided to violently avenge the death of two motorcyclists, who were hit by a truck on Kebbah Road.
According to eyewitnesses, the angry youth smashed the windshield of the truck and attempted setting it ablaze.
The standoff, which lasted for hours, intensified after the police started firing live bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd, according to eyewitnesses.
But the LNP has since denied that its officers who arrived on the scene to put the situation under control, used live bullets to quiet the rioters.
“They fired more than four times and the other bullet hit the woman from the neck that’s how the crowd scattered and some people gathered around the woman to take her to hospital. So the police should not lie that there were no live bullets fired,” Catherina Freeman, a resident of Kebbah explained to FPA after the incident.
According to Rev. Colley, their own investigation revealed that the motorcycle accident left its two occupants severely injured and this led to the mob violence.
He also said the role of the police did not deter the protesters from their actions as they allegedly threw petrol bombs, stones and other objects at the officers.
He noted that the INCHR’s finding is contrary to the statements coming from the Deputy Police Inspector-General, Col. Robert Budy, the Police spokesman, Moses Carter, and other members of the LNP.
“The INCHR sees this action by the police as a shameful abdication of her statutory responsibilities and an attempt to cover up shady deeds of unscrupulous elements within the LNP. This threatens the enjoyment of the rights of all within the borders of Liberia,” he noted.
He also said that the INCHR is aware of the progress with the help of international partners which the LNP has made in recent times.
Meanwhile, the INCHR is calling on all judicial actors concern to ensure the speedy trial of the alleged murder of Krubo Kukolo, who was beheaded after her husband Mulbah Flomo was shot in Zorzor District, Lofa County on June 14, 2018.
Recounting some of what the Commission sees as “unethical incidents” carried out by the police, Rev. Colley stated the handling of the strike situation involving workers and residents of Golden Veroleum, in Sinoe County, in 2015. He indicated that a number of citizens were flogged and imprisoned.
He also cited the situation following the death of the late Victoria Zayzay in police custody. The Police claimed that she had committed suicide, but the entire incident was shrouded in mystery and doubt.
He also spoke of a 2016 incident in Paynesville City where a police officer hit motorcyclist Alfred Tarnue at the back of his neck, killing him instantly.
“The shooting of a motorcyclist in Parker Paint earlier this year by Officer Roland Demman, who then shot himself on his hand for cover-up; and the flogging of United Methodist University students during a protest on their campus among several questionable actions of the Police,” he cited.