Liberia: Supreme Court Summons Planners of June 7 Save-the-State Protest
Monrovia – Members of the Council of Patriots, organizers of the next week’s June 7 Save-the-State Protest have been cited to appear before the Justice in Chambers of the Supreme Court of Liberia on Monday, June 3, 2019. “By directive of his Honor Joseph N. Nagbe, Associate Justice Presiding in Chambers, you are hereby cited to a conference with His Honor on Monday, June 3, 2019, at the hour of 2:00 p.m. in connection with the above captioned case,” a copy of the writ obtained by FrontPageAfrica states.
The summons stems from a Petition for the Writ of Mandamus filed on Tuesday, May 28, to Justice in-Chamber Joseph Nagbe by the Citizens United to Sustain Peace and Democracy by and thru the Center for the Protection of Human Rights against the Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia and Chairman of the Joint Security and Council of Patriots and those working under the scope of their authority.
“By directive of his Honor Joseph N. Nagbe, Associate Justice Presiding in Chambers, you are hereby cited to a conference with His Honor on Monday, June 3, 2019, at the hour of 2:00 p.m. in connection with the above captioned case.”A copy of the writ obtained by FrontPageAfrica
Cllr. Dempster Brown, a lawyer representing the group this week filed a petition for an alternative Writ of Mandamus to the Justice-in-Chamber.
Mandamus is a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty. Alternative Writ is a common law writ issued by the court commanding the person against whom it is issued either to do a specific thing or to show cause why he or she should not be compelled to do it.
Cllr. Brown, who is also the head of the legal team of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, states in the writ that they are citizens of the Republic of Liberia whose responsibility is to protect the rights of the Liberian people to sustain the peace and democracy that the country is enjoying today.
Cllr. Brown stated that co-respondents, the ‘Council of Patriots’ informed the Government by and through co-respondents Attorney General and Chairman of the joint security of the Ministry of Justice through a communication that they have planned a protest for June 7.
The Council of Patriots’ communication stated that the protest will commence on June 7, meaning that the protest is indefinite.
Cllr. Dempster, quoted Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution which states that “All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and associate with others to request the government for a permit to state their indefinite protest.”
Cllr Brown indicated in the writ that co-respondent Attorney General’s failure to designate a specific venue where the government representative and patriots will meet for the presentation of their petition will violate the rights of other citizens who will not protest.
According to Cllr. Brown and his complainants, the much-publicized June 7 protest has created fear in investors, teachers, parents and health workers; and therefore will not allow their children to go to school; health workers will not go to work; all markets and stores will be closed because there is no designated venue for the presentation of the petition.
He expressed concern that all streets will be blocked commencing June 7 which violate the rights of the citizens of Liberia and foreign residents to free movement. “Wherefore and in view of the foregoing petitioners pray the court to designate a venue where the government and the co-respondents, Council of Patriots, will meet to present their petition preferably Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex located in Paynesville or the Antoinette Tubman Stadium located on the Un Drive,” Cllr. Brown said.
The suit comes in the backdraft of another threat of lawsuit against the protest by Cllr. Arthur Johnson who has vowed to file two separate petitions to the Supreme Court of Liberia to prevent organizers of the June 7 protest from proceeding.
Appearing on OK FM this week, Cllr. Arthur Johnson said he will file two separate petitions to the Supreme Court of Liberia to prevent organizers of the June 7 protest from proceeding with their plan.
Cllr. Johnson, the lawyer who represented the legal interest of then Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh in his Ja’neh’s impeachment trial by the Liberian Senate, claims that he has information that the planned protest will last for 35 days.
Efforts to stop the protest through the courts amid threats of violence contradicts public assertions from President George Manneh Weah.
In meeting Thursday with the ECOWAS Delegation, headed by its President Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President Weah averred that while the constitution is clear on the right of any group of Liberians to protest, his government is under obligation to protect that right, it is equally the right of non-protesting Liberians to freely go about their normal businesses. “Since we took over the leadership of the country, we have placed no objection on anyone’s right to exercise their rights under the laws,” the President, adding, “We have all been advocating for that. “Those who want to exercise whatever right can go ahead to do so. Our hope is that it is done responsibly. Government has the right to defend and protect everyone’s right.”
He said his Government has done everything possible, including meeting the proponents of the June 7 protest and other national stakeholders, in finding an amicable out-of-the-street solution to the current protest imbroglio.
President Weah assured the ECOWAS delegation he was still ready and open to listen to any Liberian who has concerns relating to the well-being of the state and people.
Cllr. Brown has a history of resisting protest. In April 2013, he cautioned then President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf not to allow protestors in the streets on April 12, 2013 as they have planned, saying the Liberian Government will regret if the planned demonstrations went ahead. “Any attempt for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to allow the pending demonstration to take place will subsequently lead to a major regret ever in her political life. We are in the streets every day; being aware of daily happenings and the plan those protesters have orchestrated will create serious problem”, he warned at the time.
It is unclear whether organizers of the protest will honor the writ but one member told FPA a short while ago that they may not be inclined to. “The court will not be politically used to undermine the protest,” said the official speaking on condition of anonymity.