Liberia: Liberian Officials Held for Rape in Korea Claim Being Framed, But Govt Vows to Cooperate with Investigations
MONROVIA – Moses Owen Browne, the Liberian official who is being held in South Korea along with his colleague, Daniel Tarr, for alleged rape says they were both framed by the alleged victims and he believes the allegation is an act of racism.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Browne is Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) based in the UK while Tarr is the Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection. The pair had travelled to Busan, South Korea to attend the GHG SMART Practical Training and Study Visitwhich ran from September 19-23.
They were both taken into police custody on Friday after the alleged victims claimed they are teenagers called the police from the two officials’ hotel room that they had been raped.
News Agencies in Korea say the alleged victims informed authorities that they are 14 and 16 years old, however, FrontPageAfrica gathered they had told the Liberian officials that they are 21 and 26 years old.
Information gathered by FrontPageAfrica says the two officials met the alleged rape survivors at the mall when they (the girls) walked up to them and offered to help them find their way about at the mall and assist them in buying a mobile phone at a reasonable price.
Thereafter, the girls reportedly asked them out for a drink, followed them to their hotel where they had some drinks, and smoked outside the hotel room.
FrontPageAfrica further gathered that after spending some time with them in their hotel room, they allegedly offered to spend the night and then called their friends to bring them some clothes for a change.
Hours later, the officials heard a strong bang on their door while the girls were inside.
Browne told FrontPageAfrica via a WhatsApp call that prior to the arrival of the police, there was a heavy bang on their door and when he spied through the peephole, he observed four strong men wearing black – a sight he said instilled fear in them and therefore, decided not to open the door.
He said the hotel’s receptionist hang up on him when he called to inform them of the heavy bang on the door. According to him, there was a second bang a few minutes later so he called other Maritime officials attending the conference who confirmed to him that it was the police banging on their door. It was when he gained the confidence to open the door.
He said when they opened the door, they heard the girls saying “These are the monkeys who raped us”.
He said they communicated with the girl via a translation app on their mobile phones.
Meanwhile, the pair are yet to be formally charged. A Korean judge has taken statements from them to determine probable cause for a formal rape charge against them and the need for detention. If no probable cause is found, they will be released from police custody and allowed to leave the country immediately.
Not A First Timer?
Following the report of Browne’s alleged involvement with rape, Ne-Suah Livingstone posted to Facebook, “Money can’t leave his black palm behind. He raped a child that lived with him in 2018”.
FrontPageAfrica could not independently confirm this allegation. However, Smart News Liberia reported that had a rape record prior to his appointment by the President of Liberia to the International Maritime organization.
“We ran after an alleged rape case involving this same Moses Owen Brown as the accused perpetrator and the little girl who used to live with him and his wife. While running about, seeking justice for the survivor, Moses Owen Brown and his wife moved out of their Airfield residence, when we looked, he was given a job by the Liberian Government out of this country, leaving the case hanging!!! Monkey can’t leave its black hands behind!!!” Smart News Liberia quoted the child right advocate as saying.
LiMA’s Full Cooperation
The Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) has described the allegation against its officials as grave and says it maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any and all types of sexual and gender-based offenses, and views these allegations of the conduct of its Officials as most egregious, having no place in any civilized society.
“Liberia Maritime Authority will fully cooperate with the Government of the Republic of South Korea in the investigation of this incident and vows to take appropriate actions, pursuant to national and international Law,” it said in a statement.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) has welcomed a statement from the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) affirming its’ full cooperation with the Government of the Republic of South Korea on allegations of rape of minors by two Liberian government officials.
Condemned by Gender Ministry
The Ministry says it finds the allegations of rape disturbing, distressing, and a matter that goes completely against the mores of Liberia’s commitment to fighting the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence.
According to the Ministry, Liberia has a Presidential declaration on rape as a national emergency. As such, it condemns these alleged sexual misbehaving acts by government agents and considers same as unacceptable and inexcusable.
The Ministry: “If confirmed, this will have the propensity to further undermine Liberia’s fight against rape and poses a setback in achieving Goal 5 of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which highlights the urgent need to ending violence and exploitation of women and girls.
“Gender Ministry calls on the Liberia Maritime Authority to where applicable, immediately recall these Officials, and if found guilty, LiMA should not hesitate in taking appropriate actions against them, including dismissal and the pursuance of sentencing, as is allowed under the laws and jurisdictions of both South Korea and Liberia.
“MGCSP admonishes all government officials and the Liberian populace at large, to be circumspect in daily interactions at home or abroad, and to continue to join hands with GoL in the fight against Sexual and Gender-based Violence.”
Pres. Weah – A Feminist-in-Chief
The rape allegation against the Liberian officials comes at the heels of President George Weah’s reiteration to world leaders that he is Liberia’s Feminist-in-Chief.
President Weah told the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly last Thursday that his government is working assiduously to end harmful traditional practices against women while at the same time making gender equality a top priority of his administration.
Pres. Weah said: “To this end, we have developed the legal framework; including the ratification of regional and international instruments to address gender inequalities which are being carried out as a result of socio-cultural perceptions, practices, and stereotypes that support male dominance and the subordination of women.
“I would like to inform you that my government, together with UN partners, is implementing the EU Spotlight Initiative to end violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls, and promote their sexual and reproductive health and rights.”