The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) says it is troubled by recent acts of torture and maltreatment meted out against students of the University of Liberia-based political party, the Student Unification Party (SUP) who had assembled to register grievances to the Government of Liberia on the Independence Day when they were mobbed by loyalists believed to be from the ruling Congress for Democratic Change Council of Patriots.
The LNBA says, the “banditry and savagery” orchestrated by the CDC loyalists against peaceful students must immediately be investigated by an independent panel that will assist the police in getting to the bottom of the issue. The LNBA will not condone any attempt from National Government to treat the recent attack as business as usual.
The LNBA says the video image of the event presents horrific scenes of torture and inhumane treatment against harmless students who were simply exercising their constitutional rights to freely assemble and there was no indication that they acted outside the ambit of the law.
In a statement issued in Monrovia recently, the LNBA condemns the acts of violence and maltreatment of the students and recounts that such acts are a harsh reminder and a tacit recast of the dark days of dictatorship, and intolerance to critical voices and amount to systematic clampdown on dissenting views. The LNBA says such conduct by the youths believed to be from the CDC Council of Patriots has no place in the democratic society that Liberia aspires for and is being acclaimed to be.
The LNBA says that it is concerned about the conspicuous silence of the Government of Liberia on this despicable act. The LNBA further maintains that the silence of the Government lends credence to assumptions that the acts of the CDC Council of Patriots may have been instigated and sanctioned by state actors which sends a very dangerous signal that the country should brace itself for acts of violence in the lead up to the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The LNBA observes that any democratically elected Government that is intolerant to critical voices presents itself as being weak and leaves room for its democratic credentials to be underrated.
The LNBA, therefore, calls on the Weah-led Government to rise to the occasion to honor its constitutional obligation as being the government for all Liberians irrespective of tribe, color, creed, and political persuasion and to protect the fundamental rights of all Liberians including those who disagree with the way the country is being governed.
The LNBA reminds the Government of President George Weah that as the country prepares for elections next year, the stakes are obviously going to be higher.
The Bar, therefore, calls on the government to always adhere to the rule of law in dealing with critical voices and those who politically disagree with the government, which is a basic tenet of democracy, as the failure to do so, the Government will be sending a wrong signal that will cast a dark cloud on the possibility of holding free and fair elections in 2023.
The LNBA warns of the dire consequences of perpetrating violence as same as the tendency to rob the country of the huge gains made in nearly two decades of peace and the return to civil democratic rule, the statement concluded