Liberia: Senate to Investigate Allegation of Sexual Harassment before Conducting Hearing for Liberia’s Foreign Minister-designate
MONROVIA – Senator Dan Morais, (Maryland County-IND) chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs chose what many described as an unprecedented path when he called off a Senate confirmation proceeding for Ambassador Dee Maxwell Kemayah, Foreign Minister-designate until allegation of sexual harassment against him is looked into.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Amb. Kemayah who serves as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations was accused of sexual harassment by a Liberian staff of the mission in New York immediately after his nomination was announced.
Senator Morais in his short statement adjourned the hearings minutes after it had commenced and informed Ambassador Kemayah that the committee could not go further with the hearing until the allegation against him is investigated and resolved.
Senator Morais said: “We as Senators and the committee charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations brought before us find magnitude in a full and thorough investigation and so we will adjourn and the nominee will remain under oath and we will inform him the day of his return.”
Like Senator Morais, Senator Conmany Wesseh (River Gee County- UP) Co-Chairman on the committee also promised a full-scale investigation into the matter. He said the investigation would be free of sentiment to give Liberia the kind of Foreign Minister it deserves.
“I don’t want any sentiment, I don’t want things that would tie us, things that are untested. We, in our political work, have stood for justice. We must not accuse falsely without giving prove of the accusations; we make and those accused, if found guilty, be prosecuted.
“I, Conmany B. Wesseh, having stood for justice all my life and my political life, will ensure that justice is done in this particular case. The committee, I believe, will do a thorough job and we will pursue truth and justice without sentiment and encourage all of you who have shown interest to continue to do so until we get justice and the Foreign Minister that this country deserves.”
Amb. Kemayah, however, received a huge solidarity support from various youth and women groups who believe that the allegation against him is politically motivated.
Even though the government and other stakeholders are yet to establish any fact linking Ambassador Kemayah to the sexual harassment allegation leveled against him by Whynee Cummings Wilson, the lady herself has challenged the Ambassador to a lie-detector test.
“I, Conmany B. Wesseh, having stood for justice all my life and my political life, will ensure that justice is done in this particular case. The committee, I believe, will do a thorough job and we will pursue truth and justice without sentiment and encourage all of you who have shown interest to continue to do so until we get justice and the Foreign Minister that this country deserves.”Conmany B. Wesseh, Senator, Rivergee County, Co-Chair, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
A lie-detector test, also known as a polygraph test, records the body’s involuntary responses to an examiner’s questions in order to ascertain deceptive behavior. The test measures physiological data from three or more systems of the human body-generally the respiratory, cardiovascular, and sweat gland systems-but not the voice. There are other tests that test the voice for deception.
However, Ambassador Kemayah’s lawyers have responded to the Wilson’s allegation by describing it as a trick to demoralize his reputation for her “devilish” goal.
In a communication regarding the allegation, the legal team of Kemayah questioned the credibility of Wilson’s allegation and wondered how a person expressing emotional regrets over such a grave act can wait after several months to come out at a time people are talking about rape. “Didn’t she know that from the beginning?” The legal team wondered.
Amb. Kemayah’s legal team has also catalogued his achievements that came with moral conduct in the public space, where it said he had led several organizations including the famous Liberian Business Association (LIBA) and several sport clubs that he was not named in any ethical misconduct.
The report of Ambassador Kemayah’s involvement in sexual harassment comes at the time when President Weah has declared rape as a national emergency and launched a roadmap to address the issue of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Ambassador Kemayah, in a five-page document response through his New York-based legal team, the Tilem & Associates, said “We are aware that long before his nomination as Liberia’s Foreign Minister, a handful of detractor unleashed an avalanche of failed attacks to hunt him down into disfavor with the President.”
Mrs. Una K. Thompson, the head of the joint women rights groups, Women Rights Campaign for Justice and Women of Liberia Peace Network, said they are raising the issue at a higher level to ensure that justice is done to both Kemayah and Wilson.
Mrs. Thompson, who herself is a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, said the women’s network is making sure that the case is non-political because they strongly believe that women’s issues should not be politicized.
She called on the Senate to stop the confirmation of Ambassador Kemayah until the complaint against him by Madam Wilson is addressed through a speedy investigation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.