By R. Joyclyn Wea
The Government of Liberia is expected to prosecute fifteen anti-government protesters following their arrest on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
The fifteen individuals were arrested on July 31, 2019 by security forces in Monrovia after staging a roadblock at the main entrance of the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill.
The Liberian Government refused to grant any permit to the Council of Patriots (COP), organizers of the protest and warned against any form of protest in the country; something that was violated by some Liberians on Wednesday calling on the Liberian head of state to address concerns within the COP’s petition on June 7, 2019 that was subsequently presented to Weah led-Government.
The demonstrators are speaking out against corruption and economic decline something they have long linked to the once popular President, George Weah.
Speaking with journalists following the security forces crackdown on the protesters, Police spokesman Moses Carter confirmed the arrest of the fifteen protesters.
“We made arrest of over 15 persons. They will be investigated and our investigators will take the rest of the decision as to what charges will be levied against them. I didn’t see anyone wounded in the process. This is nothing strange,” he said.
According to him, the process of any Liberian assembling in the public space must be guided, because there are two counter constitutional provisions Article 17 and article 13.
“Article 17 which is the reliance of most protesters provides for freedom of assembly. Counter to that constitutional provision is Article 13, which calls for freedom of movement. That is while you have your freedom to peacefully assemble, another person has the right to peaceful assemble”
He noted that it is incumbent upon them as state security to ensure proper guidance so that it does not jeopardize the peace and security of the nation.
Countering Carters’ assertions, protester Alphonso Teeslay bewailed “Actually we are peaceful citizens, and we strongly believe Liberia is a democratic form of Government wherein every citizens is charged with the responsibility to exercise his or her political rights. So I strongly believe we will seek redress.”
He maintained that their right to assemble peacefully is guarantee under the constitution therefore the move to gather on July 31, 2019 was not by any mean illegal.
Teeslay explained that the significant of the protest is to bring some form of relief in the sense that the council of patriots presented their petition to the President but since the petition was presented to the president, up to this time, some of those provisions in the petition are not implemented.
“The fifteen persons are undergoing investigation and would be charged and sent to court for prosecution for going against the law of the state,” Eugene Fahngon, Deputy Minister for Press And Public Affairs MICAT.
He claimed that peaceful assembly as require in Article 17 of the constitution does not mean getting on the street to cause a roadblock.
Fahngon maintained that those individuals were in violation of Article 13 of the constitution even though they were acting under Article 13 of the same constitution.
He explained that the protesters were arrested by state security after all attempt by the police to make them understand that they were in violation of Article 13 and because of that they will be sent to Court.
Fahngon spoke to Journalists at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and tourism (MICAT) regular Thursday press briefing in Monrovia.