Acting Police Commissioner (APC) David Ramnarine, on Sunday released a statement shutting down claims that 65 female students of Region One (Barima-Waini), were strip-searched in the presence of male officers.This statement came in response to an article titled, “Region One education officials investigate strip-searching of female students” published in the Guyana Stabroek newspaper on Sunday.The article alleges that female students of the Santa Rosa Secondary School were strip-searched in the presence of male officers, after a report was made to the Acquero Police Station of missing money at the school.According to the article, the Police Station was contacted by the school’s Welfare Officer who alleged that $55,000 was stolen from the school’s dorm mother.Reports revealed that the woman claimed that she locked her room and left the key hanging on a wall.However, she returned and later discovered the money missing which prompted her to report the matter to the Welfare Officer who then contacted the Police.The article related that orders were given by the Police Station to strip-search the students. This was done in the presence of two male officers, the dorm mother and the Welfare Officer of the school. The money was not found, however it was also noted that male students somehow managed to witness the strip-search which angered the female students.In the statement, the APC said that according to the reports he received, the officers who reported to the school were present when the students’ bags was searched, however when the Welfare Officer suggested that a search be conducted on each child, the Subordinate Officer objected and indicated that it would be improper in the circumstance for the Police to sanction this, and he and the Constable left the school.The Subordinate Officer later reported that he learned that the children were searched by the Welfare Officer. This story surfaced on Friday last when an affected female student confided in a resident of the area as to what had transpired.The Regional Executive Officer, who also received reports of this incident, seemingly without investigating, called the alleged act by the officers “greatly inappropriate”.
The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has resolved a standoff between the National Chronicle Newspaper and the Press Bureau of the Liberian Senate.The mediation followed a complaint filed by the Director of the Senate Press Bureau Jarlawah A. Tonpo, in which he accused the National Chronicle of maligning his character following a report in the paper that Tonpo had led a group of ex-combatants to attack the paper and its reporter.The National Chronicle, in successive editions, alleged that Tonpo led the group that threatened to attack Reporter Monica Samuel and burn down their offices, when he called at the paper’s office to verify facts about a murder story it published, to which Bomi Senator Lahai Lassanah and one Victor Jah were linked. The Senate Press Bureau, while seeking the PUL’s intervention in what it called an erroneous publication by the paper, also suspended the National Chronicle from covering the Senate, pending the union’s intervention.During its investigation into the saga Thursday, both parties realized that they at some point “overly acted” and agreed to bury their differences and proceed with their respective duties.Tonpo denied taking with him ex-combatants at the National Chronicle’s office, but admitted that they might have followed the driver of Senator Lansannah who drove him at the Paper’s office.In resolving the stand-off, the Press Union of Liberia blamed the Senate Press Director for the action of the unauthorized men at the offices of the National Chronicle from the fact that they were accomplices of the Senator’s driver, who had himself followed Tonpo.The PUL also denounced any action aimed at denying journalists access to public facilities, on account of disagreements.“This action is a violation of the media entity’s right to public information, and it undermines free speech and press freedom in any democratic society,” PUL President Abdullai Kamara said. Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia has taken offence with The Reporter Newspaper for failing to retract an article in its April 14 edition, in which it made difficult and unconfirmed allegations against the Guinean Ambassador to Liberia, El Hadj Abdoulaye Dore.At the hearing held on April 15, the PUL ruled that the issues reported in article written by Reporter Mike Jabateh in the April 14 edition did not present verified facts, cited faceless sources, did not get the side of Ambassador Dore and effectively brought his reputation into disrepute – all in violation of various sections of the PUL code of ethics and conduct.The PUL is also offended by the fact that inspite of the decision, The Reporter is yet to come out with the clarification, as was agreed during the meeting.The PUL notes that media institutions would be putting themselves and their journalists at greater risks of frivolous lawsuits not only by reporting unverified stories, but refusing to abide by the result of peer reviews.The PUL will not in any way restrain any media house from pursuing any matter, but if you are reporting a particular matter, you must go to the length of gathering the facts, crosschecking these facts with relevant sources, and engaging those who are accused or involved.In this way, you will be freeing yourself from undue criticism and making your journalism one of credit.The PUL’s strength in standing up to those bent on restricting freedom of the press is guaranteed by journalists and media houses who accept the PUL as the source of professional development and peer regulation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Morweh Energy Group, Incorporated, Dr. Christopher Z. Neyor, has on behalf of the entity’s partners and friends, written a letter of commendation to President Barrack Obama of the United States of America, for committing his government to the ongoing fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.“I would like to thank President Barack Obama, the government and people of the United States of America for their great humanity in coming to the rescue of West Africa, especially Liberia, to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic that is ravaging our land and people,” Mr. Neyor said in his letter dated September 17, addressed to President Obama at the White House.Over the course of the week, President Obama has come up with a massive response of 3000 troops, US$500 million, and the further appointment of an Ebola Czar. Neyor said that was indeed the kind of robust intervention required to contain this killer virus.Mr. Neyor, a onetime president of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) and now a senatorial candidate for Montserrado County, is also the CEO of the Morweh Energy Group based in Monrovia.Speaking on behalf of his company, he said he believed that no other nation on earth has the military or civilian resources and capability as the United States to undertake the level of intervention President Obama has committed the US to do for Liberia. In his dispatch, Mr. Neyor said deployment of the US military intervention through the US Army Corp of Engineers was commendable, “because we advocated for this in 2006 for restoration of power in post conflict Liberia.”“We are delighted that it is working this time with a more profound intervention of saving lives.”“By this outstanding humanitarian gesture,” he said, “the United States has again shown the world the great compassion of the American people. Real global power is not bullying weaker countries, but utilizing your power to go to distant lands to save the oppressed and the dying where there are no ulterior motives.”According to Mr. Neyor, by naming Liberia as the control center of the American response, President Obama has taken into account and elevated to a new level the nearly two centuries of US-Liberia relations, starting in 1816 with formation of the American Colonization Society (ACS).Liberians, both at home and abroad, especially those in the United States, are appreciative and remain grateful to the United States for rescuing our homeland once again, this time from the deadly Ebola menace. At the same time, Dr. Neyor has expressed thanks and gratitude to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for putting the request to President Obama. Neyor called on the government to not to leave everything to the Americans, but to improve on those things we can ourselves do to save the lives of our dying people.“With this massive assistance, we can now be reassured that Ebola will be kicked out of Liberia and West Africa. Let us all continue and intensify our individual and collective awareness and preventive initiatives.“Let all our citizens continue to take all the prescribed measures to remain Ebola free,” the Neyor’s letter concluded.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The General Manager of the Liberia Marketing Association, Mr. Emmanuel T. Tumbey, has said his members are severely affected by the crisis, especially those selling bush-meat, which has been banned due to the risk of contagion. Commodity exports, such as iron ore, palm oil and rubber form the backbone of Liberia’s economic growth. It is striking, though perhaps not surprising, that workers in these particular sectors of the economy are also among those hardest hit by poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition.He said, the Ebola crisis in West Africa differs from other emergency situations in almost every way. This is not a crisis where needs can quickly be identified, supplied and distributed; and measures implemented to put people, communities and the economy back on track.“The situation is getting more serious every day. While the numbers of Ebola cases are doubling every three weeks, the virus also keeps taking an increasing economic toll, affecting the poorest half of the Liberian population who live in conditions of extreme poverty.”According to a recent report produced by Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture, about 75 per cent of mine-workers, more than 70 per cent of those working in the palm oil industry and about 63 per cent of those working on rubber plantations suffer severe to moderate food insecurity. The economic slow-down currently caused by the Ebola-epidemic has exacerbated the situation further.“People survive by eating what they grow in their own gardens, and by selling vegetables from their back yards,” said Deroe Weeks, Director of Food Security and Nutrition at the Ministry of Agriculture. “For the bush-meat hunters, there are not many alternative livelihoods. Food insecurity will increase,” she said.Liberian businessman Amin Modad, who is leading an economic recovery strategy initiative, said two of the main obstacles for Liberian businesses are the lack of skilled entrepreneurs and lack of access to credit. But the situation now is acute. “I have loans to pay. If it continues like this, I will not make it.”UNDP is now reprogramming its resources in Liberia to meet a range of Ebola-related challenges. So far, UNDP’s support helped strengthen coordination of assistance at the country level, promoted social mobilization, and organized Ebola sensitization and preventive awareness campaigns in all 15 counties in Liberia.“Massive social mobilization, awareness creation and active engagement of the society are necessary if we are to stand a chance to contain Ebola,” said UNDP Country Director for Liberia, Kamil Kamaluddeen. “The risk of social unrest and violence are likely to escalate as the situation continues to deteriorate.”UNDP has also provided expertise to enhance information management capacities and supplied vehicles to improve the national response capacity of the Command Centre for coordination, surveillance and case management.A team of UNDP experts is helping to improve crisis response capacity at the national and local levels, and design measures to revitalize the economy, including a wide-ranging social protection plan, including cash transfers to the poorest part of the population.Another specific area where UNDP will provide support is reducing the spread of infection in prisons by training selected corrections officers to prevent outbreaks, and uphold the human rights of inmates, strengthening prison health facilities, and improving the diet of inmates.UNDP has been designing response and recovery efforts. Its staff is ensuring that the health response is integrated and coordinated. It is also working to ensure that the response is inclusive by helping meet some of the pressing needs of the most-affected communities.This focus is essential so that the services that support livelihoods and hold communities together can be quickly restored. By helping communities, Liberia can more effectively begin to move beyond the epidemic by accelerating the recovery effort and returning the economy and society to a path of longe-term development.With the dramatic toll the Ebola crisis is taking on individuals, communities and the economy, the income structure in Liberia could be severely affected. As families lose their breadwinners, livelihoods disappear and prices of commodities, health services and other emergency expenses increase, the social fabric of the country could change.“In this scenario, social protection mechanisms will contribute to improving stability and security, and make the Liberian society as a whole more robust and resilient,” said Kamaluddeen.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Human Rights activist and former Public Works Minister, Attorney Kofi Woods yesterday challenged the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to be more civilian-friendly and eschew (avoid, shun) its tragic legacy when it played the role of “terrorist to democracy.”Fresh in the mind of this year’s Armed Forces Day Speaker were two particular incidents of terror. The first was the AFL’s invasion of the University of Liberia on August 22, 1984 when, led by Samuel Doe’s Defense Minister Gray D. Allison, the heavily armed AFL soldiers stormed the UL’s main campus and stripped naked, brutalized, raped and killed many professors, students and staff and ransacked the campus. The Daily Observer, too, remembers vividly the horrors of that day, which we covered in detail. Our editorial the following morning cried, “Bleed, Bleed, Poor Country—Great Tyranny”—a line borrowed from William Shakespeare.Kofi Woods’ second fresh recollection of AFL brutality was the shooting and subsequent bleeding to death last August of the West Point youth, Shaki Kamara.It was heartwarming to hear Defense Minister Brownie Samukai himself, in his remarks yesterday, apologetically recall that tragic incident, for which he showed contrition (remorse). The logical and most welcomed denouement (conclusion) to this unfortunate episode is for the government to release the results of the investigation that followed and tell the public what punishment has been meted out to those involved in Shaki’s untimely death and other victims. A more distant reminiscence (recall) of Attorney Woods was the cruel participation of the AFL’s predecessor, the Liberia Frontier Force (LFF), in hut tax collection in the Liberian interior.But this is all in the past. Mr. Woods, who told his audience that he had long been a severe critic of the AFL, including even denying the necessity for its very existence, was now full of praises for the men and women in arms. He commended their role in road building, carried out by the AFL’s Engineering Battalion, in the erection of Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) in various parts of the country, and their successful role in peace keeping in Mali.Recalling, however, the Biblical dictum that “Charity begins at home,” Mr. Woods then challenged the AFL to turn its attention to winning “the hearts of its citizens at home.”He urged the AFL to start within its own community—PHP [and nearby Buzzi Quarters] and do something to help the people in those slum communities. He also called for the revival of the AFL’s Agricultural Battalion. This could help train Liberian farmers and AFL itself could grow food, in order to enhance Liberia’s food security.He further dared the AFL to return to West Point, not with guns this time, but with shovels and diggers, copybooks and pencils, to engage in agriculture, clean-up campaigns and house repair as well as adult literacy.He called these endeavors “the civilianization” of the AFL.For sure, if the AFL could return to West Point in the way Attorney Woods has suggested, it would be a tremendous attempt at reconciliation. But beyond that, should the AFL be able to reenergize its Agricultural and Engineering Battalions, they could make their impact felt throughout the country, by helping to improve and expand agricultural activities and to build more farm-to-market roads around the country.There is a big BUT to all this—and Defense Minister Samukai took pains to emphasize this in his own Armed Forces Day Address yesterday: funding. The Ministry was seriously cash-strapped, limiting it from doing the urgent items on its agenda. The Defense Ministry was not oblivious to the need for better pay, housing conditions and other emoluments for the men and women in arms—something Keynote Speaker Woods also called for, toward making our military truly professional people. The more professional they become, the better service they would be able to render the country following their retirement, Mr. Woods averred.But, as Minister Samukai cautioned, none of this would be possible without more money.We urge the GOL to heed this plea and empower the Ministry and our men and women in arms not so much with military hardware as with money, to professionalize them and turn them into a truly CIVILIAN-friendly force for good. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)