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Liberia

Culture Of Impunity Must End

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…RWHR Wants War Crimes Court Established

The Regional Watch for Human Rights, Inc. (RWHR) has stressed the need for the Liberian Government to end the culture of impunity that it said has engulfed the Liberian society by the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court.

Addressing a news conference Wednesday, August 21, 2019, in observance of International Justice Day Worldwide which was celebrated on July 17, 2019, Cllr. Thompson Adebayor, Regional Director of RWHR said Liberia failure to establish war crimes court for people to account for their actions is responsible for the recent wave of violence in the country.

He said had people who committed heinous crimes during the country’s civil unrest been prosecuted for their action, it would have served as deterrence for others.

Adebayor told journalists that the establishment of war crimes court would demonstrate the government commitment to fight impunity which he claimed appears to be taking over the country.

He said the establishment of war crimes court is in the best interest of the government and its people.

At the same time, Cllr. Adebayor said his group is troubled and concerned about the wave of violence and insecurity in the country.

He called on the government to probe the recent electoral violence in District#15, Montserrado County to ensure perpetrators are brought to book.

The RWHR boss said Liberia has come a long way relative to the maintenance of peace and stability, something it cannot afford to jeopardize.

He called on every political party to jealously guide the peace that the country currently enjoys.


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Liberia

Weeks, Others Spend Second Night

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…At Central Prison

Former and current Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials who were re-arrested Tuesday, August 20, 2019 and jailed have spent their second night at the Monrovia Central Prison.

Defendants Charles E. Sirleaf, Milton A. Weeks, Dorbor Hagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph G. Dennis were re-arrested Tuesday, after prosecution changed their earlier charges to Money Laundering.

The defendants were immediately taken to the Monrovia Central Prison and jailed.

But defendant Sirleaf was released late Tuesday evening on medical ground while the others spent the night there.

Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin K. Martin told The NEWS Tuesday evening via mobile phone that defendant Sirleaf’s medical bill has since been before the court which indicates that he’s not well.

However, his colleagues remained behind bars, apparently they have not filed valid bond to be released.

On Tuesday, Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court “C” ordered the defendants re-arrested and imprisoned until the right bond is proffered if possible.

The Judge in his ruling on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, said government lawyers should turnover every documentary evidence to the defendants through their lawyers in 72 hours to give the defendants sufficient notice and enable defense team to provide adequate representations.

He also commanded the sheriffs of the court to serve the defendants with the Writ of Arrest along with the indictment so they can be aware of the new crime charged by prosecution.

The defendants were first charged with Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Facilitation, Criminal Solicitation and Bribery.

The five former and current CBL officials who were re-arrested Tuesday, same being August 20, 2019, were immediately taken to the Monrovia Central Prison for the amended crime of Money Laundering that was imposed on them.

The defendants were re-arrested based upon the indictment prepared against them by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County.

The indictment said the Grand Jurors have taken an oath to find probable cause that the defendants at CBL at the time committed the crime of Money Laundering, a first degree felony in violation of chapter 15, sub-chapter “D”, section 15.2 (a) (b) (c) (d) (f) of the penal law of Liberia.

The crime, money laundering states that, “a person or body corporate or other legal entity commits the offense of money laundering if that person knowingly or having reason to believe that is the proceeds of crime: engages directly or indirectly in any transaction which involves the property; receives, possesses, conceals, disguises, transfers, converts, disposes of removes from or bring the property into Liberia; or participates in, associates with or conspires to commit, attempt to commit, or aids or facilitate the commission of any of the above acts.”

According to the indictment, on April of 2016 up to August of 2018, at their CBL offices, the defendants by virtue of their employments within the CBL deliberately, knowingly and intentionally colluded and conspired with the wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the Liberian economy.

It also revealed that the defendants defrauded the CBL and the government when they unauthorizingly printed excess Liberian dollar banknotes amounting to 2,645,000,000 (Two billion six hundred forty-five million Liberian dollars) to infuse into the Liberian market.


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Liberia

Weah Reiterates Commitment

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… To Protect Women

President Dr. George Manneh Weah has again reiterated his commitment to the promotion and protection of women and girls against sexual gender-based violence and gender inequality, an Executive Mansion release discloses.

The release said President Weah made the pledge Wednesday, August 21, 2019, at his Foreign Affairs Office when he received a petition from women who reportedly represented ten civil society organizations.

The women through their designated speaker, Mmenbeydo Joah-Harell petitioned the President to protect the rights of women, increase the number of women in government and provide security in District 15, Logan Town.

The Liberian leader told the petitioners that his commitment to gender equality and protection of the rights of women, girls and children would not diminish for any reason or by another force.

“I want to assure residents of Montserrado County, particularly voters and candidates of District 15, as well as all Liberians and the world that there would be a free, fair and transparent elections anytime under my administration,” the Liberian Chief Executive averred, adding that he would increase security presence in District #15 if there would be a rerun.

President Weah also reminded the women to take responsibility to preach peace. He urged the women to also prevail on their relatives, mainly youth, to at all times be peaceful and refrain from violence.

He used the occasion to once more call on leaders of political parties to encourage their supporters to be civil and peaceful during election times.

The Liberian Leader also promised a timely and prompt investigation into last Saturday’s violence in District 15.


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Liberia

“False Assets Declaration”

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…Rep. Gray Descends On Dillon

By A. Omaska Jallah

Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray has described as ‘false asset declaration’ the recent declaration of assets by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, terming it as a violation to Section 10.3 of the Code of Conduct.

He said Senator Dillon declared his assets at the Liberian Senate without knowing and indicating his net salary on the assets declaration form provided to him by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

While taking over at the Liberian Senate, Senator Dillon presented all documents regarding his assets, but his gross and net salary as senator was not indicated, something he told journalists in a recent press conference that he has not being informed about his salary by the Senate; as such, he could not indicate it,

But Rep. Gray said this contradicts his understanding of assets declaration.

According to Section 10.3 of the Code of Conduct under sub topic ‘Sanctions for False Declaration’ “every Public Official and Employee of Government shall declare and affirm that his or her declaration is accurate to the best of his or her knowledge. Any statement in such declaration found to be false upon verification shall lead to summary dismissal and other measures provided by law.”

But speaking to Legislative reporters on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Montserrado County District #8 lawmaker said Senator Dillon lied under oath, according to the mentioned section of the Code of Conduct; and as such, it is punishable under the same law.

He claimed that Senator Dillon violated the Code of Conduct relative to asset declaration; as such, he should be punished for misleading the public, noting that the senator undeclared his assets.

Rep. Gray maintained that Senator Dillon has betrayed historical comments made by him several months ago before coming to the senate.

Before his election, the Montserrado County Senator, in several public forums, stated that he will declare his assets if elected as senator and front for the reduction of salaries by senators at the Liberian Senate, something Gray described as political rhetoric that is yet to come to reality.

At the same time, Rep. Gray has disclosed that the CDC has filed a bill of exception to the National Elections Commission (NEC) which, according to him, is expected to be heard today.

According to him, the NEC haring officer that heard the complaints filed by the candidate of the collaborating party in the just ended Montserrado County District #15 by-election, Telia Urey, was in a contradiction.

The NEC hearing officer called for a rerun in the six quarantined precincts within the district, specifically Logan Town.

Rep. Gray said the hearing officer told the hearing that there was no fraud, yet he called for rerun.

This, the Montserrado County lawmaker said, is a complete contradiction by Hearing Officer.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gray has condemned the serious wave of violent perpetrated by both supporters of Telia Urey and Abu Kamara.

He called on supporters of candidates Urey and Kamara to remain calm.


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Liberia

Abu Kamara Reveals ‘Untold Story’

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…In Latest Electoral Violence

LINA

“It was the first time ever I saw my family shivering from fear and trauma caused by the sounds and cracks from stones thrown at our house. Cars parked in and around my compound owned by family and friends were also vandalized,” Abu Kamara, candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in District #15, Montserrado County, narrates his ordeal.

The statement on his social media platform followed the counter-throwing of projectiles by his supporters spurred by initial attacks by those loyal to his key opponent, Telia Urey of the All Liberian Party.

Supporters on both sides were injured in the process which happened in the lead-up to a re-run at six precincts in the district under the county’s combined Senatorial and Representative By-elections.

The car belonging to candidate Urey was also attacked, one account stated.

In his statement, though, Kamara said: “We witnessed another episode of an act of electoral violence within our District. I am ultimately concerned about the escalating tension and violence erupting fears into residents of our district and contaminating the peace we enjoy.”

“We must stop the fears and electoral violence by all means possible and free our people from this political servitude,” he added.

Furthermore, Kamara urged his partisans, supporters to detach and avoid any act of violence and remain calm as they progress to the re-run poll, adding that episodes of violence are fast approaching a point where they can cause division amongst the people and land their fate into a doom of anarchy. “Liberia stands beyond us.”

Meanwhile, Kamara says he stretches hand to meet rival Urey and her team of managers, the district governing council, religious leaders, and all stakeholders in the by-election of the district for a reconciliation meeting in a secluded environment to mend relation, mitigate future violence and put the interest of the people above their political egos.

“I caution all involved, especially my supporters, to remain steadfast to peace and remain calm by avoiding all forms of violence to enjoy our fragile peace,” said Kamara.


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Liberia

Saturday Declared As National Flag Day

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President Dr. George Manneh Weah has by Proclamation declared Saturday, August 24, 2019 as National Flag Day and is to be celebrated as a National Holiday throughout the Republic.

The observance will be marked by the hoisting of the National Flag from each dwelling and public building across the nation.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, government offices, public and business houses are to remain closed during the observance.

The Proclamation ordered the Ministry of Education and other relevant government agencies concerned to design appropriate programs befitting the occasion.

The Proclamation is in consonance with an Act approved on October 25, 1915 by the National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, declaring the 24th Day of August of each year as “National Flag Day” to be observed as a National Holiday.

The Day is commemorated annually by citizens of the Republic in testimony of their allegiance and loyalty to the National Ensign which is an embodiment of the nation’s existence as a sovereign entity and to encourage national pride and patriotism.

The National Flag was designed and produced by a committee of ladies led by Mrs. Susannah Lewis who were talented and visionary citizens of the Republic at the time.

According to the Proclamation, the making of the National Flag of the Republic was a historic event of great significance for Liberia as Africa’s Pacesetter in the struggle for self-determination and inspiration to future African States.

The Proclamation also recounted that the National Ensign of the Republic of Liberia is a visible evidence of the country’s sovereignty and independence as well as a symbol of pride and dignity within the comity of nations.

The Liberian Flag consists of six red stripes and five alternating white stripes, totaling eleven stripes, each representing one of the eleven signers of the Declaration of Independence of Liberia; the blue field, in the upper left corner of a rectangular form with a single white star in the center of the blue field, depicting Liberia as the then only independent state on the continent of Africa; the color red symbolizes the blood of those who died in the struggle for independence; the color white indicates the purity of mind of all our fore bearers toward each other; and the Blue for the dark continent of Africa as it was then depicted, the Proclamation further declared.


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CNDRA Begins Capacity Building

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…Training for Library Staff

By Tonita N. Copson

The Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) has begun a five-day practical library management training intended to sharpen the skills of eleven staff of the National Public Library on Ashmun Street in Monrovia.

Speaking this week during the opening of the event, CNDRA Director General C. Neileh Daitouah encouraged participants to take advantage of the ongoing library administration training program.

He said the primary objective of the National Public Library is to provide urban and rural communities with easy access to information and recreational resources.

He said many people especially children in rural areas struggle for library in order to get quality education in the absence of public libraries as they travel distances to go to school.

CNDRA boss further said the education sector is cardinal to what they do individually and collectively, noting that an educated nation is a rich nation.

The Director of the National Public Library, Madyln C.R. Wah, said the refresher capacity building training seeks to provide participants the basic knowledge in library management system.

She pointed out that they need to educate employees to effectively run the day-to-day operations of CNDRA public libraries across Liberia.

Mrs. Wah said after the training, some of the participants will take new assignment in Nimba County to help manage the Agency newly established public library situated in Ganta City which will be opened to the public in September of this year.


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Liberia

More Liberians Depart For Short-term Training

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…In China

By: Nicholas Dweh Nimley

Twenty-four Liberians from the Ministry of Youth and Sports tailored program, National Youth Service Program (NYSP), departed the country on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, for Jinan, Shandong Province, The People’s Republic of China.

The Liberians are expected to be trained in Air Conditioning maintenance, with the training program scheduled to last for one month.

The 24 NYSP Cadets bring the total number of Liberians who have benefitted from different short-term training opportunities provided by China, to about 350 persons.

LI Jiang, Commercial Councilor at the China Embassy in Monrovia, said China is strengthening collaboration with countries, and the training is part of the eight major initiatives announced at the FOCAC Beijing Summit held in September 2018.

He told the gathering that China and Liberia have traditional friendly relationship, and many of Chinaid projects in Liberia, including the ministerial complex, new airport terminal are nearing completion. He indicated that China is also planning new projects of infrastructures that will help improve the economic development of Liberia.

More opportunities, he said, have been provided to Liberians for training opportunities in the last five years, with the number reaching over 1,000 personnel of the government. He assured Liberians that China will strengthen capacity building and the scale of Chinaid for Liberia.

Representing the Minister of Youth and Sports was Special Assistant John Narrold Sunday, who appreciated China for supporting Liberia’s capacity development effort.

Sunday said the training program is an important part of government Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

Mr. Sunday disclosed that 13 Liberians are currently undergoing training in Bamboo and Rattan Weaving in China, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports is grateful to China. He challenged the Cadets to make maximum use of the training to make Liberia proud.

For his part, Edriss Bility, Deputy Director General of the General Service Agency told the Cadets that Liberia depends on them to make an impact with skills they would acquire from China.

He appeals to the commercial office to also provide some training opportunities for staff of the GSA so that they can better maintain the assets of government.


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Liberia

Man Sentenced For Illegal Possession Of Chimpanzee

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The Grand Gedeh City Magisterial Court has sentenced one Stephen Barlee to prison for three months for economic sabotage and illegal possession of a chimpanzee thereby contravening the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia, release has disclosed.

The arrest and subsequent prosecution of Stephen Barlee comes in the wake of the unwavering move by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other conservation partners to ensure that the law that protects wildlife against willful abuse by poachers remains decisive and categorical in all respects.

On Monday, August 12, 2019, vigilant rangers of the Forestry Development Authority arrested Stephen Barlee with a baby chimp around the Grebo Krahn National Park while attempting to sell it.

Chapter 11, Section 11.2 of the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law emphatically forbids the hunting, killing, eating, selling, or possession of wild animals including chimpanzees.

The suspect was then taken to court, charged and convicted. He is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence in Grand Gedeh prison, in the South East. The chimpanzee has since been escorted to safety by the Grebo/Krahn Chief Park Warden, NP Joseph Greene assisted by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation’s field team assigned in Grand Gedeh.

The chimpanzee will receive lifetime care from FDA partner, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP) which is leaving no stone unturned in making sure that the law is duly implemented to save the lives of wildlife.

It can be recalled that on May 21, 2019, the Cestos City Magisterial Court in River Cess County fined one Comfort Walker USD$100.00 for illegally possessing wildlife chimpanzee.

The chimp was confiscated by the Liberia National Police assigned at the ITI checkpoint in Rivercess County on March 3, 2019 and subsequently turned over to the FDA and LCRP.

The FDA, in her complaint filed before the court, alleged that the act of defendant Comfort Walker was unlawful, criminal, wicked, wrongful, intentional and malicious which contravened section 11.1g ( illegal possession of wildlife – chimp) which falls under the National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the charges in open court void of argument and made an initial payment of LD$10,000.

“West African chimpanzees are a critically endangered species putting them at risk of extinction. It is extremely important to note that for every young chimpanzee being sold, an estimated 5-10 adult chimpanzees have also been killed.

This criminal activity is decimating Liberia’s wild populations at an alarming rate. Known as “Gardeners of the Forest” chimpanzees protect our survival and act as a keystone species for all wildlife,” the release said.

Continuing, the release said the move by FDA and its partners is viewed as a major success in their drive to effectively promote public awareness regarding Liberia’s Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management law and combating illegal wildlife crime throughout the country and the region.

Lead organizations partnering with the FDA in implementation of national and international wildlife crime initiatives include the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Fauna and Flora International, Liberia Chimpanzee & Protection and others; thanks to the generous support of donors such as the European Union, USAID funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program and the government of the United Kingdom, the release noted.

“These critical programs focus on a holistic approach to combatting crimes against wildlife and nature through increased public awareness, strengthened law enforcement, training and capacity building and greater involvement of local community members in the responsible and sustainable management of natural resources.

The continued success of operations like this are key to the protection and conservation of Liberia’s unique and important biodiversity for generations to come,” the release concluded.


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FDA Gets Euros 3.4M Support To VPA

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The European Union (EU) has provided EURO 3.5 million to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) through the Government of Liberia in support of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a trade arrangement that has existed between the two parties since 2013.

A release said this gesture, representing the EU’s support to the forestry sector is a long term Technical Assistance aimed at implementing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement / Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (VPA – FLEGT).

The EU Ambassador to Liberia Hélène Cavé made the disclosure Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in Monrovia during program marking the official launch of Phase II of the agreement which has a lifespan of three years.

She said basically this technical assistance will support the Forestry Development Authority as lead agency as well as other actors in the forestry sector including the Liberia Implementation Committee, the National Multi Stakeholder Monitoring Committee, the VPA Secretariat, amongst others.

According to her, the EU’s commitment towards that goal remains the same after more than five years of working hand in hand with the Government of Liberia.

“The process has significantly improved and progress have been attained; however we still have to go further before issuing FLEGT licenses,” she emphasized.

“Today we are presenting a competent Technical team, with experts in different aspects of the VPA related topics – forestry management, civil society and community forestry, chain of custody provides the necessary credibility of Liberian timber exports. “Let me remind you that Liberia is blessed.

Liberia is blessed with magnificent and unique rain forests. If you look around in the West African region, the biggest patches of remaining forests are here, in Liberia. But they won’t be here forever if we do not take care of them.”

We from the EU are strongly committed to support Liberia and its forests. We are stepping up our actions to protect the existing forests, to manage forests sustainably as well as actively and sustainably create new coverage,” she concluded.

Speaking also exhaustively at the launch which brought together an array of government officials, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen praised the EU for what he called a defined gesture that will certainly go a long way in promoting the sustainable management of the Liberian forest. He used the occasion to outline achievements made by his management team since it was appointed by President George Manneh Weah.

He said he is proud that his administration has been able to comply and cooperate with ‘our development partners’ thereby were able to experience some marked achievements.

He promised to work assiduously with the EU and other partners aimed at raising FDA and the forest sector to a remarkable standard.

He hoped the path being carved and implemented would continue to practically bear desired fruits for the benefit of the nation at large. He named some of the development initiatives being fostered by his administration as the construction of a USD292.00 modern regional complex under construction in Buchannan, Grand Bassa County, while grand breaking ceremony for similar complex is due soon in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.

He disclosed that his administration has embarked on rigorous human resource development project aimed at building the capacity of the staff especially at a time when proficiency and efficiency have become the hallmarks of the day.


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FPA EXCLUSIVE: Odell Sherman Autopsy – ‘Descent from Height Requires Further Investigation’

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ODELL AUTOPSY CONCLUSION: “There are no visible injuries of the external genitalia, vagina, or rectum. Nonetheless a post-mortem sexual assault examination was performed with evidence collection. All the injuries are consistent with a descent from the upper level platform in a single event impacting the broad surface of the tile floor. For these reasons the Cause of Death is best classified as Blunt Force Trauma of the Head due to Descent from Height Note: The circumstances that led to her descent from the upper level platform is unknown and requires further investigation.”
– Excerpts from Autopsy of Odell Sherman obtained by FrontPageAfrica

Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]


Monrovia – The long-awaited autopsy of Odell Sherman who was unconsciously found in the home of Rev. Emmanuel Giddings in Duazohn, Margibi County on June 21, 2019, has concluded that the circumstances that led to her fall from an upper level platform in the clergyman’s home, may require further investigation, dealing more uncertainty to the saga which has been dragging for months and has put the deceased’s family and the government at loggerheads.

The autopsy report obtained by FrontPageAfrica came to the following conclusion: “There are no visible injuries of the external genitalia, vagina, or rectum. Nonetheless a post-mortem sexual assault examination was performed with evidence collection. All the injuries are consistent with a descent from the upper level platform in a single event impacting the broad surface of the tile floor. For these reasons the Cause of Death is best classified as Blunt Force Trauma of the Head due to Descent from Height Note: The circumstances that led to her descent from the upper level platform is unknown and requires further investigation.”

The autopsy performed by Dr. Roger Mitchell, a certified Medical Examiner out of Washington, D.C., was witnessed by representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Council of Churches and the deceased family.
The body of the deceased had been at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor in Gardnerville Township for nearly 100 days.

Odell was pronounced dead on June 21 after she was unconsciously found in the home of Rev. Giddings at his Duazohn, Margibi County and taken to the ELWA Hospital.

The report describes the cause of death from a blunt force trauma of the head due to descent from height.

No Mention of Alcohol in Report

The audit report describes the cause of death from a blunt force trauma of the head due to descent from height although it says the circumstances leading to the fall warrants further investigation.

The pathologist wrote: “The decedent is a 21-year old black African female who was found on a tile floor of an unfinished building. The decedent is reportedly found on a tile floor underneath an un-railed upper level platform that is approximately 16 feet above the location that the decedent is found. At autopsy the decedent has multiple abrasions and contusions of her back at her shoulders; the back of her left arm, and the front of her right leg. She also has a large bruise on the back of her head that is only visible after scalp reflection. There is blood coming from the left ear. Full dissection of the scalp reveals an impact site at the back of the head with a fracture radiating along the left lambdoid suture to involve the left temporal skull and internal petrous bone at its base. There is associated intracranial hemorrhage and brain swelling.”

There are no underlying fractures Minor Blunt Force Trauma of the Neck: There is a 1-inch abrasions overlying the posterior cervical spine. There are no underlying fractures These injuries are described by body region with the body in formal anatomical position. The order by which these injuries are described are not to establish a particular order of occurrence.”

From Autopsy Report of Odell Sherman

A key omission from the report seen by FPA is that of alcohol. The report makes no mention of alcohol found in the deceased’s system. It can be recalled that some of Odell’s friends and schoolmates suggested that she had been drinking on the night in question.

The pathologist noted that the body was received clad in a pink tank-top, black bra, and grey skirt with slight to moderate and diffuse decomposition changes. “The body is cold and partially frozen from refrigeration. Rigor mortis is indistinguishable from frozen change. Livor mortis is posterior and fixed. The head has scalp hair that is short, curly, black and arranged in “corn-rows”. The rest of the head, neck, torso, and extremities are described under “Evidence of Injuries: External and Internal”. The irides are brown. The sclerae are white and the conjunctivae normal; both are without petechiae, hemorrhages, or icterus. Vitreous fluid is absent and the eyes are sunken due to decomposition. The dentition is natural. The mouth is unremarkable without injury. The abdomen is flat. The external genitalia are that of a normal adult female. There are no observable injuries to the vagina or anus.”

The report notes that there is blunt force trauma of the head with associated skull fracture and brain injury. It also notes additional abrasions and contusions of the neck, back, shoulders, arms and left leg.

The findings noted that the skull has an underlying fracture radiating right just above the lambdoid suture and to the left involving the lambdoid suture and extending to the left temporal bone. “The fracture also extends into the internal base of the skull involving the left petrous portion. There is blood at the external auditory meatus of the left ear. The left cerebral hemisphere reveals diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage. There is general cerebral edema. Blunt Force Trauma of the Extremities: There is a 10-inch X 3/4-inch linear abrasion involving the posterior surface of the left arm and forearm. The left posterior wrist has a 3-inch abraded contusion. The right lower leg reveals a 11-inch X 1/2-inch linear abrasion involving the shin to the ankle. There are no underlying fractures.”

The pathologist also found multiple abrasions of the posterior shoulders bilaterally. “There is 3-inch by 3/4-inch abrasion of the right shoulder associated with the aforementioned linear abrasion of the left arm. The right posterior shoulder has a complex abrasion made up of 4 abrasions ranging in size from 2 inches to 2-1/2 inches. There are no underlying fractures Minor Blunt Force Trauma of the Neck: There is a 1-inch abrasions overlying the posterior cervical spine. There are no underlying fractures These injuries are described by body region with the body in formal anatomical position. The order by which these injuries are described are not to establish a particular order of occurrence.

The cross sections of the brain reveal no neoplastic masses, focal lesions, cysts, abscesses, or infarcts. NECK: The soft tissues of the neck have no injuries. The hyoid bone, laryngeal cartilages, trachea, and cervical vertebrae have no fractures.

‘The vagina and cervix are normal’

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According to the autopsy, Odell also has a large bruise on the back of her head that is only visible after scalp reflection. There is blood coming from the left ear. Full dissection of the scalp reveals an impact site at the back of the head with a fracture radiating along the left lambdoid suture to involve the left temporal skull and internal petrous bone at its base.

A test of the cardiovascular system found 200-gram heart has a normal configuration with a minimal amount of epicardial fat. “The coronary arteries are patent and have no arteriosclerotic disease. No acute thrombi are present. The atrial and ventricular chambers are not dilated. Both ventricles have a normal thickness. No focal endomyocardial lesions are present. The papillary muscles and chordae tendinae are not thickened, and the heart valves are unremarkable. The aorta has no significant atherosclerosis. The major arteries and great veins have a normal distribution.

A test of the respiratory system including the larynx and trachea area were found to be unremarkable.

A test of the endocrine system that includes the thyroid gland was found to be a normal bilobed configuration and is unremarkable. “The pancreas has a normal, lobulated pattern. The adrenal glands have no neoplastic masses, focal lesions, hemorrhages, or infarcts. The right and left kidneys weigh 100 grams, respectively. Both kidneys have no neoplastic masses, focal lesions, or infarcts. There are no abnormalities in the calyceal systems, pelves, ureters, or bladder. The vagina and cervix are normal,” the pathologist noted.

Dr. Roger Mitchell has performed more than 1,400 autopsies and testified as expert in several cases.

Dr. Mitchell Jr. is board certified in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology and a Fellow with the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). Dr. Mitchell is the new Chair of the Strategic Planning Subcommittee for NAME and is the Immediate Past Chair for the Deaths in Custody Subcommittee. Dr. Mitchell has recently served as the National Co-Chair for the National Medical Association’s (NMA) Working Group on Gun Violence and Police Use of Force.

He is a graduate of Howard University, Washington DC, and New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ. Dr. Mitchell is licensed to practice medicine in Washington DC. He has performed over 1400 autopsy examinations in his career and has testified as an expert on numerous cases.

He began the study of forensic science and violence prevention as a Forensic Biologist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – DNA Unit in January 1997.

As the Chief Medical Examiner of a major city, Dr. Mitchell is uniquely positioned to understand the social determinants that lead to the violence affecting our most vulnerable communities. He has a great interest in Violence as a public health issue and has recently co-authored position papers on The Violence Epidemic in the African American Community for the National Medical Association (NMA) and the Definition, Investigation, Postmortem Examination and Reporting of Deaths in Custody for the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME).

Pathologists Previously Rejected

Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman, mother of the deceased Odell Sherman

Dr. Mitchell recently served on the Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB) for the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) frequently seek out his expertise on subjects such as violence, death investigation, and mass fatality management. Dr. Mitchell has lectured for the Governments of cities located in India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Belize, and Liberia as well as for the International Coroners Conference in London, England.

Dr. Mitchell, who has performed more than 1,400 autopsies in his career and has testified as an expert in numerous cases, came in after the Liberian government disqualified Dr. Rockefeller Cooper who was not a licensed to practice in Liberia.

Before Dr. Rockefeller, Dr. Benedict B. Kolee was expected to conduct the autopsy but the family insisted that they did not trust the government’s handling of the investigation and would resist any further exclusive investigation of the corpse by the government.

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Justice from Odell’s family signed by Alphonso O. Sherman – father of the deceased – the family lauded the GoL “for the attention and commitment made to pay for the independent pathologist that was hired to conduct an autopsy on the remains of our late daughter, Odell P. Sherman.”

The death certificate previously reported by FrontPageAfrica mentioned bleeding from the ear, which according to the certificate, suggests that she either died as a result of sexual abuse or from falling, something the Police said is confusing and might only be established by pathologists who will determine the main cause of death.

With the conclusion of a respectable autopsy, another round of investigation could prove pivotal as the autopsy has now revealed it is unclear what led Odell to fall to her death? The unknown circumstances are likely to raise more questions than answers and fuel even more debate.


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Liberia: Women Protest against Continuous Violence, Intimidation against Female Political Actors

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Monrovia – Wednesday’s torrential downpour could not derail the women’s plan to carry on their sit-in action. They prostrated in a straight file on the sidewalk before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the Office President George Weah is located demanding an end to intimidation and violence against women, especially in politics.

They came under the banner
‘Women of Liberia On Women’s Peace and Security’.
Their protest was one
intended to draw the attention of President Weah and the nation to their
disgust to the recent waves of violence and brutality meted against women
without any perpetrator being brought to book.

Even President Weah, they
believe, has been one of the instigators of violence against in recent time.

“The Government of Liberia must move
beyond condemnation and act in accordance to its constitutional mandate to end
the continuing and pervasive violence against all women in Liberia,” the women
said in a statement.

According
to the women, violence against women, be it domestic, economic, political,
sexual harassment, rape and abuse, continues to be the most pervasive human
rights violation affecting women and girls in Liberia.

They
argued that it continues to deny women the freedom, autonomy, access, and opportunities
and marginalize their voice, participation and ability to exercise their civic
and political rights.

“The recent electoral related violence is horrifying and calls for swift actions to curtail these acts of violence. It not only has the propensity to undermine the peace [hard fought for and won by Liberian women], but also to continue to encourage a culture of impunity that promote the low socio-economic status of women and girls in Liberia, irrespective of class, age, ethnicity, ability, orientation, education, political affiliation and income level. We note that the failure on the part of the Government to fix the justice system and ensure timely access to Justice is eroding citizens, especially women, trust and confidence in the state as the primary duty bearer. This comes despite our demands to take measures to protect women and girls from violence and recommendations we have put forward,” their statement said.

The disenchanted women raised expressed
concern over the recent act of violence in District 15 by-elections on August
17, 2019 involving female political candidate, Ms. Telia Urey.

“This disappointingly follows previous
electoral violence in the same District earlier this month and recent reports
of cyber bullying against senatorial candidate, Paulita Wie. We also remind the
Government of similar acts of violence against another female candidate in
District 13 by-election, Cornelia Kruah-Togba and the leaked sex videos during
2017 elections,” they noted.

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The women called on all political parties
and stakeholders concerned to operate within the confines of the law, adding
that those who have grievances will use the judicial means to address their
issue.

What the Women Want

The
women called on the President to ensure that the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Justice
investigate the police officers who witnessed but did not intervene in the
assaults in District 13, District 15 and at the National Elections Commission.

“We request an independent and impartial
investigation into these incidents and that the results be made accessible to
the general public within 2 months,” the penned in their petition to President
Weah.

The women want Commissioner Walter Rays of the Liberia National Police (105) suspended with immediate effect for his alleged repeated refusal to intervene in violent assaults against citizens perpetrated in his presence, and order an investigation into his conduct for further punitive actions.

The Liberia
Feminist Movement called on President Weah to, in the interest of peace, and to
create a safe political space, his statement calling for violence against
female political candidates and institute a zero-tolerance policy against
government officials and political parties making comments that promote
violence and derogation against women and girls.

They called
for the provision of increased security presence throughout District 15 in the
days immediately preceding and following the rerun date and until the winner is
announced. Particular attention should be given to the six precincts that fall
under the NEC’s mandate.

The
women: “We remain resolute in our calls for gender equality, the end to
patriarchal norms, values and beliefs and promotion of women socio-economic,
cultural, civic and political rights. We therefore demand the following:

“That
the Liberia National Police and the Judiciary act with speed and conduct
investigations into the recent incidents of violence in the two By-elections
and timely resolution.

“That
the Government (inclusive of the Current legislature) strengthen the capacity
and resourcing of the Women and Child Protection Unit of the Liberian National
Police and Criminal Court “E”. This includes budgetary allocation to these
institutions and support services for survivors.
“That the National Elections Commissions upholds it
mandate to act swiftly in addressing political parties found liable in
perpetrating acts of violence and commence a nationwide public education on
protecting women civic and political rights.”


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Liberia: Assets Recovery Team Reportedly Relying on Fabricated Documents to Persecute Amara Konneh, Others

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MONROVIA – Documents obtained by FrontPageAfrica show that the key whistleblower in the US$500 million double payment allegations against former Finance Minister Amara Konneh is also alleged to have criminally tampered with paper trails and electronic files of the Ministry which she had access to.

A 2015 investigation commissioned by the Integrity and
Professional Responsibility Unit (IPR) of the Finance Ministry on 11th July
2015, and completed August 31, 2016 pointed to acts of deliberate and willful
attempts by Madam Dixon to impugn the reputation of staffers of the Debt
Management Unit (DMU) for reasons which remain a mystery to date.
Madam Patricia P. Dixon who is a key whistleblower aiding
the Assets Investigation, Retrieval, Reimbursement Team (AIRReT) was accused by
Investigators of fraud and evidence tampering.

The investigation arose from a complaint from the CEO New
World Printing Press, Madam Sonnie M. Tealeh to Minister Konneh that the
Government of Liberia was indebted to her in the amount of US$1,287,542.00 and
LD$1,079,967.80. Madam Tealeh alleged that the amounts due her were diverted to
some employees for their personal use. The Ministry under Konneh’s
administration upon review of the complaint concluded that there were
sufficient grounds for an administrative internal investigation to be
conducted.

Key persons of interest during the investigation included
Mr. Abubarkar M. S. Kiawu, Director, Debt Management Unit and Mr. Madison C.
Kegbeh, Senior Desk Analyst/Debt Management.

The IPR United investigation heavily relied on paper
trails and documents provided by Patricia P. Dixon who served as a primary
witness in the investigation. However, those she accused also alleged that she
had manipulated the documents to suit her intent of damaging their reputation
and having them fired.

All parties in the investigation questioned the crashing
of the Debt Management Unit’s server but the handler of the Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) Unit who was identified as Abu refused to
cooperate with the investigation.

However, the ICT Unit was asked by the investigation team
to do an analysis of the records of the DMU that was uploaded to the Ministry’s
server. The ICT Unit was also asked to determine whether or not the uploaded
documents from the DMU system was tampered with or modified, when it was
modified, to what extent such modification was done and to identify the
individual(s) responsible for the modifications.

The document in FPA possession shows that the ICT
Unit identified Ms. Dixon as the individual who last modified critical documents
on the DMU server on April 14, 2015 when the matter was being reviewed by the
Ministry. The ICT Unit was, however, unable to identify what was modified or if
there were other individuals who modified the documents before Ms. Dixon.

Ms. Dixon, according to the investigative report, told
the investigators that her sole intent was to expose ills and corruption in the
ministry and that she had no malice against the subjects of investigation.

Why
Focus on Konneh?

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The Investigative team dismissed the allegations made by
Ms. Dixon against the pair, noting that the allegations could not be
substantiated. However, Cllr. Arthur Johnson’s Asset Recovery Team continue to
name former Minister Konneh as a person of interest and has therefore called on
him to submit to investigation.

Meanwhile, observers are concerned why the
investigation team has decided to place much emphasis on former Finance
Minister Amara Konneh, instead of being wholistic in their approach.

Konneh became Minister of Finance and
Development Planning Minister in February 2012 until April 30, 2016. This
means, the investigation by the asset recovery team covers periods before
Konneh became minister and periods after he left office.

Cllr. Arthur Johnson

Some argue that it would be good to invite all the former finance ministers because no single person served those entire 10 years: Antoinette Sayeh (2006 – 2008); Augustine K. Ngafuan (2008 – 2012); Amara Konneh (2012 – 2016) and Boima S. Kamara (2016 – 2018), and the members of the Debt Management Committee that include the Central Bank of Liberia, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.

“Government prosecutors often lose cases or
waste money on cases because they do not conduct proper investigation or
research before making a decision to go to court. Some of the cases they take
to court are often not investigated, others are purely have ill-intents,” a
finance expert said.

The allegations of double payments by the
Ministry of Finance was first brought to the lime light in 2006 in a KPMG audit
report. During that period, Konneh was not Finance Minister.

Impeccable sources at the General Auditing
Commission hinted FrontPageAfrica that the Commission has conducted audit for
the period Konneh served as Finance Minister, but did not observe the
allegation being made the Solicitor General’s team.

“If the GAC did miss such and AIRReT can
present to the Liberia an irrefutable evidence to back up their claims, then it
was a big miss because for US$500 million, the equivalent an entire fiscal year
budget, and L$1 billion to leave the Consolidated Account without being
detected by auditors would be a massive failure of the system,” a GAC source
said.

In April 2010, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf set
up a Debt Management Committee to regulate public finance transactions, in
keeping with Section 28 (4) of the Public Finance Management Act of 2009. The
Committee is chaired by the Minister of Finance.  Its members included the
Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia; the Ministers of State for
Presidential Affairs, Justice, and Planning & Economic Affairs. Except
Government securities which are handled by the Central Bank of Liberia, the
Committee was responsible for approving all central government loan agreements
in keeping with the Public Finance Management Act of 2009.

Domestic
Debt Resolution

The
Ellen Government inherited approximately US$1 billion in domestic debts. To
resolve this as part of the HIPC program for debt waiver, her government
developed the Domestic Debt Resolution Strategy (DDRS) and hired KPMG Ghana to
audit this huge domestic debt burden. KPMG carried out its audits between 2006
and 2008 and major repayment to debtors were made between 2008 and 2011 when
Konneh was nowhere near the Ministry of Finance.


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Liberia: Senator Johnson Says Allies of President Weah Are Intimidating Him With War Crimes Court

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Monrovia – Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County has told his colleagues about threats he continues to receive from House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee about bringing the war crimes court to Liberia every time he speaks truth to power.

Senator
Johnson, in a disappointing mood, made the disclosure in a plenary discussion
surrounding the recent violent incident in Montserrado County District #15 that
resulted into the damaging of Ms. Telia Urey’s vehicle.
Senator
Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence had written to plenary a communication, which was
backed by Senators Abraham Darius Dillon and Conmany Wesseh. The only female
senator requested plenary to endorse a request to invite the Mayor of Monrovia,
Justice Minister Frank Musah Deah, Police inspector General Patrick Sudue and
other ranking officials of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to answer to
concerns about growing violence and the police intervention.

As evidence
to back his claims, he displayed text messages sent to him Speaker Chambers. In
an apparent boastful response, the Nimba County Senator promised not to fall to
what he called “scare tactics” applied by Speaker Chambers and Mayor Koijee.

Speaker Bhofal Chambers

All efforts to contact the two officials of government through text and calls did not materialized as we were informed that the speaker was out of the country.

“The issue
that is on the floor of the Senate which is supposed to be the ‘house of
elders’ is a grave one. These are some of the things we who collaborated with
the ruling government continue to say and when we say them they label use
‘enemies of the state.’

“Speaker
Chamber texted me and said don’t pullout of the Coalition because the war
crimes court is not being signed because of you. The Speaker told me that.
Scare tactics will not stop me from speaking. 

“When you
born your child and they are doing well is a pride and when they are performing
badly is an embarrassment to you. We’ve been part of the previous conflict
because of bad governance. At that time people considered themselves heroes;
they sat and their people did harm to the people and did nothing about it.”

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Speaking
further, the Nimba County lawmaker warned the government about providing
security for all citizens through peace and the rule of law and not by training
military men and women. “You can train so many soldiers and give them the
sophisticated weapons once they are have not been tested in combat, they are
alien.

“People are
speaking their minds as a wakeup call for us to change our ways, if we are
doing wrong let us change. Too many inflammatory statements are been made with
some from members of the regime, one is the City Mayor having press conference and
boasting to defend government with their blood when; we advise they threaten us
with war crimes court.”

City Mayor Jefferson Koijee

Senator Johnson cautioned Mayor Koijee in specific comments about encouraging a UN backed tribunal in Liberia which he said, will do justice for all participants of the war because according to him the Liberian civil crisis wasn’t only fought by Liberians by had some foreigners taking part.

“We don’t
need war crime court we want a UN backed tribunal. We advise that things are
not right what happened in Logan Town. What are you protecting? You can only
protect by giving positive advice, but in this regime when you advice they
brand you.”

Senator Oscar Cooper

Senator Oscar Cooper

Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi County warned that if tangible steps are not taken to address the many violent incidents occurring, there is a clear sign of insecurity, which could force ordinary Liberians to recruit their personal security to ensure their safety.

“If we don’t
take steps to bring in people who terrorize innocent citizens going out to
exercise their constitutional rights in elections history could be repeated.
There is a clear and pressing danger to the people and security of the state. I
am not going to sit here and run away from my responsibility as a Senator. This
is not a party thing, it is security issue

Senator Sando
Johnson of Bomi County described the violence in the district as an “act of
terrorism.” He warned that Liberia will soon be labeled a terrorist country
because of these kinds of actions.
“If we are not
careful, Koijee’s action will bring war because I will not sit and allow anyone
take away my life, we all will die together.”


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Liberia: House of Representatives Holds Secret Session to Discuss President Weah’s Constitution Amendment Proposals

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MONROVIA – Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, August 20 locked themselves up to begin what sources say was an acrimonious debate on the amendment of sections of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

At a presidential
and legislative retreat last weekend, President George M. Weah presented to the
lawmakers’ proposals to amend Articles 28, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, and 56 of the
Constitution.
In addition
to the President’s proposals to amend sections of the Constitution, other items
on Tuesday’s agenda included the appearance of the Attorney General of the
Republic of Liberia, Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr. to give
reasons why he ordered the postponement of the payment of the Road Fund Tax to
the government.

To the
surprise of legislative reporters, plenary voted in favor of the motion to hold
session behind closed doors. Despite Rep. Clarence Massaquoi’s plead that some
of the cardinal issues be discussed in open plenary, the movant denied his
amendment and the entire Tuesday’s session was held in secret session.

Following the
reading of the agenda by Deputy Chief Clerk, Sayfa Geeplay, a motion was filed
by Rep. Isaac Roland of Maryland County calling for the entire session to be
conducted in executive. Only a petition calling for urgent support towards the
implementation of the National Mental Health Policy was done in public.

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What President Weah Wants?

The
President, in his series of proposals affecting Articles 45, 46, 48, 49 and 50,
is suggesting reduction in the tenures of president and representatives from
six years to five years, and the Senators from nine to seven years.

According to
President Weah, the Legislators can seek re-election continuously, but a
president will not seek more than two terms.

Article 45:
“The Senate shall compose of Senators elected for a term of nine years by the
registered voters in each of the counties, but a Senator elected in a
by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, expulsion or
otherwise, shall be so elected to serve only the remainder of the unexpired
term of office. Each county shall elect two Senators and each Senator shall
have one vote in the Senate. Senators shall be eligible for re-election.”

Discussions
held in executive sessions are not publicly discussed by individual lawmakers
unless authorized to do so. Based on this, most of the lawmakers were
tightlipped at the end of session.

However,
sources from inside told FrontPage Africa that most of the lawmakers are still
skeptical with the President’s proposals and are demanding more time for review
before deciding.


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Liberia: Cruelty: 36-Year-Old Uncle Beats 10-Year-Old Niece Unmercifully

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36-year-old Joe Jarboe, Jr.

BUSHROD ISLAND – Police on the Bushrod Island are in search of a 36-year-old man identified as Joe Jarboe, Jr. for severely beating his nine years old niece in the St. Paul Bridge Community.

According to
eyewitnesses, Jarboe unmercifully beat his niece, Rose Weah, after she allegedly
disrespected him on Monday, August 19, 2019.
The former president
of the Federation of Borough Youth (FOBY), Mr. Augustine Nagbe, who is also a
next door neighbor to the suspect, disclosed that the victim reportedly knocked
on her cousin, who is the daughter of Jarboe, during a tussle between the both
of them.

He noted that
upon hearing the news, Jarboe rushed on the scene, got hold of his niece, and
severely beat her on the face and eyes.

He said the
suspect also knocked the head of his niece on the stairs of another next door
neighbor, something which resulted to blood running into her right eye.

Mr. Nagbe
added that the victim later managed to escape from her uncle Jarboe, and ran
into the next house, belonging to the Blamo’s family.

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He indicated
that though the victim was treated at a local clinic in the community, her
condition continues to deteriorate.

He maintained
that the cruel incident claimed the attention of community members, as well as
the new leadership of the Federation of Borough Youth (FOBY), headed by Peter
Wesseh.

At a called
meeting with family members of Jarboe and some Executive Committee Members of
FOBY on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, Mr. Nagbe disclosed that the suspect was
spotted at the house, but managed to “jump through the window” when several
persons in the meeting threatened to report the matter to the police.

He added that
the case has been reported at the police station in the St. Paul Bridge
Community.

He stated
that though the police has launched a thorough search for the suspect, he is
yet to be seen in the community or apprehended by LNP officers.

“Joe Jarboe,
Jr. beat his niece Rose Weah who is also called Patience. He beat the girl to
the extent that her whole face and head were swollen. The little girl and her
friend, who is Jarboe daughter were playing but she knocked the little girl.
Jarboe came and he said Patience cheeked him up, and so, he started to beat on
her. He knocked her face on the stairs and her entire face started bleeding.
The police went on the scene the same day, but he was nowhere to be seen; and
up to now, he is not in the community,” Nagbe stated.

Meanwhile,
police officers at the Zone four (4) depot in St. Paul Bridge, have confirmed
that the matter has been reported.
The officers, who
preferred not to be named, disclosed that efforts are being made to arrest the
suspect who is presently on the run.


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New Book Exposes Corruption in Liberia and Whole of Africa

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ROCKVILLE, Md. – From the author of “Liberia: The Heart of Darkness” comes a new account exposing how “Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia” (published by Trafford Publishing). In his latest book release, Gabriel I.H. Williams narrates the prevailing reality in his home country Liberia, and in Africa as a whole, where corruption has become a major hindrance to national and continental progress.

Williams writes
that the book is intended to contribute to the ongoing discourse about Liberia
or about Africa, which has often left people perplexed. According to a 2013 World
Bank report, Africa has 30% of the world’s minerals and proven oil reserves
equivalent to 10% of global stock. How is it that Africa, which has such
enormous mineral and oil wealth, is the poorest continent in the world?
The author also
notes that a similar question would suffice for Liberia, which became
independent since 1847, has been a sovereign nation for over 170 years but is
ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. This is irrespective of
the fact that the country is endowed with abundant natural resources.
Accordingly, Williams herewith submit that Africa or Liberia is not poor but
poorly managed, and that corruption is a major source of bad governance,
widespread poverty and instability on the continent.

“There can be
no question that corruption is like a cancer eating at the vitals of Africa, my
beloved country Liberia being one of the worst affected on the continent. This
is why this book is titled, ‘Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of
Liberia,’” he asserts. “Because of corruption, critical public services such as
health and education have remained in a state of dysfunction.”

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According to
Williams, the book is penned “To contribute to the ongoing discourse regarding
measures that are needed to contain corruption and other acts of bad governance
that have caused instability, poverty and underdevelopment in Africa and my
home-country Liberia.” Through this, he urges for the proper management of
Africa’s resources in order to improve the conditions of its people.

The book is a
strong call for Africa’s natural resources to have value added, and to empower
Africans through education, skills training and equal employment opportunities.
Ultimately, the book relates to the prevailing reality of life affecting
Africans and people of African descent.

About the Author

Gabriel I.H.
Williams is a diplomat and former deputy minister of information in the
government of Liberia. A career journalist, he has worked with several news
organizations in Liberia and the United States as a reporter and editor,
including serving as managing editor of The Inquirer independent newspaper in
Liberia, and staff writer of The Sacramento Observer Newspapers in Sacramento,
California.


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Liberia: Grand Gedeh County: Man Gets Three Months for Illegal Possession of Chimpanzee

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Poacher Stephen Barlee with Captive Chimpanzee

Grand Gedeh – The Grand Gedeh City Magisterial Court has sentenced one Stephen Barlee to prison for three months for economic sabotage and illegal possession of a chimpanzee thereby contravening the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia. The arrest and subsequent prosecution of Stephen Barlee comes in the wake of the unwavering move by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other conservation partners to ensure that the law that protects wildlife against willful abuse by poachers remains decisive and categorical in all respects. 

On Monday, August 12, 2019, vigilant rangers of the Forestry Development Authority arrested Stephen Barlee with a baby chimp around the Grebo Krahn National Park while attempting to sell it. Chapter 11, Section 11.2 of the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law emphatically forbids the hunting, killing, eating, selling, or possession of wild animals including chimpanzees.
The suspect
was then taken to court, charged and convicted. He is currently serving a
90-day jail sentence in Grand Gedeh prison, in the South East. The chimpanzee
has since been escorted to safety by the Grebo/Krahn Chief Park Warden,NP
Joseph Greene assisted by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation’s field team assigned
in Grand Gedeh. The chimpanzee will receive lifetime care from FDA partner,
Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP) which is leaving no stone
unturned in making sure that the law is duly implemented to save the lives of
wildlife.

It can be
recalled that on May 21, 2019, the Cestos City Magisterial Court in River Cess
County fined one Comfort Walker USD$100.00 (one hundred dollars) for illegally
possessing wildlife (chimpanzee). The chimp was confiscated by the Liberia
National Police assigned at the ITI checkpoint in Rivercess County on March 3, 2019
and subsequently turned over the FDA and LCRP.  

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The FDA, in
her complaint filed before the court alleged that the act of  defendant Comfort Walker was unlawful,
criminal, wicked, wrongful, intentional and malicious which contravened section
11.1g ( illegal possession of wildlife – chimp) which falls under the National
Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia. The
defendant pleaded guilty to the charges in open court void of argument and made
an initial payment of LD$10,000 (ten thousand dollars).     

West African
chimpanzees are a critically endangered species putting them at risk of
extinction. It is extremely important to note that for every young chimpanzee
being sold an estimated 5-10 adult chimpanzees have also been killed. This
criminal activity is decimating Liberia’s wild populations at an alarming rate.
Known as “Gardeners of the Forest” chimpanzees protect our survival and act as
a keystone species for all wildlife.

The move by
FDA and its partners is viewed as a major success in their drive to effectively
promote public awareness regarding Liberia’s Wildlife Conservation and
Protected Area Management law and combatting illegal wildlife crime throughout
the country and the region. Lead organizations partnering with the FDA in
implementation of national and international wildlife crime initiatives include
the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Fauna and Flora International, Liberia
Chimpanzee & Protection and others thanks to the generous support of donors
such as the European Union, USAID funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate
Change program and the government of the United Kingdom.

These
critical programs focus on a holistic approach to combatting crimes against
wildlife and nature through increased public awareness, strengthened law
enforcement, training and capacity building and greater involvement of local
community members in the responsible and sustainable management of natural
resources.

The continued
success of operations like this are key to the protection and conservation of
Liberia’s unique and important biodiversity for generations to come.


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Liberia: Forestry Development Agency Gets EURO 3.4M from EU to Support Voluntary Partnership Agreement

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MONROVIA – The European Union (EU) has provided EURO 3.5 to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) through the government of Liberia in support of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a trade arrangement that has existed between the two parties since 2013. This gesture, representing the EU’s support to the forestry sector is a long-term Technical Assistance aimed at implementing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement / Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (VPA – FLEGT).

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EU Ambassador
to Liberia Hélène Cavé made the disclosure Tuesday August 20, 2019 in Monrovia
during program marking the official launch of Phase II of the agreement which
has a lifespan of three years. She said basically this technical assistance
will support the Forestry Development Authority as lead agency as well as other
actors in the forestry sector including the Liberia Implementation Committee,
the National Multi Stakeholder Monitoring Committee, the VPA Secretariat,
amongst others. According to her, the EU’s commitment towards that goal remains
the same after more than five years of working hand in hand with the government
of Liberia.
“The process
has significantly improved and progress have been attained; however we still
have to go further before issuing FLEGT licenses,” she emphasized. She
continued, “Today we are presenting a competent Technical team, with experts in
different aspects of the VPA related topics-forestry management, civil society
and community forestry, chain of custody provides the necessary credibility of
Liberian timber exports. “Let me remind you that Liberia is blessed” Liberia is
blessed with magnificent and unique rain forests. If you look around in the
West African region, the biggest patches of remaining forests are here, in
Liberia. But they won’t be here forever if we do not take care of them.” WE
from the EU are strongly committed to support Liberia and its forests. We are
stepping up our actions to protect the existing forests, to manage forests
sustainably as well as actively and sustainably create new coverage,” she
concluded.
Speaking also exhaustively at the launch which
brought together an array of government officials, FDA Managing Director C.
Mike Doryen praised the EU for what he called a defined gesture that will
certainly go a long way in promoting the sustainable management of the Liberian
forest. He used the occasion to outline achievements made by his management
team since it was appointed by President George Manneh Weah. He said he is
proud that his administration has been able to comply and cooperate with ‘our
development partners’ thereby been able to experience some marked achievements.
He promised to work assiduously with the EU and other partners aimed at raising
FDA and the forest sector to a remarkable standard. He hoped the path being
carved and implemented would continue to practically bear desired fruits for
the benefit of the nation at large. He named some of the development
initiatives being fostered by his administration as the construction of a
USD292.00 modern regional complex under construction in Buchannan, Grand Bassa
County, while grand breaking ceremony for similar complex is die soon in
Tubmanburg, Bomi County. He disclosed that his administration has embarked on
rigorous human resource development project aimed at building the capacity of
the staff especially at a time when proficiency and efficiency has become the
hallmark of the day.


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Liberia

Montserrado County Attorney Justifies Release of Charles Sirleaf

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Montserrado County Attorney Edwin Martin

Monrovia– Charles Sirleaf, Deputy Governor of Operations who is one of five Central Bank of Liberia officials charged with money laundering, was on Tuesday evening, August 20 released from the Monrovia Central Prison.

Sirleaf
– son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – was on early Tuesday detained
with four other executives of the CBL on new charges of money laundering.
The
others were former Governor Milton Weeks, Director of Finance Dorbor Hagba,
Director of Operation Richard Walker and Deputy Director of Internal Audit
Joseph Dennis.

The
five CBL officials were previously charged by the state with economic sabotage,
theft of property, criminal conspiracy, facilitation and solicitation.

They
are yet to plead guilty or not guilty to these charges.

But
a day after Sirleaf was released, Montserrado County Attorney Edwin Martin disclosed
that the release was because of Sirleaf’s “ill-health and not for any other
reason”.

Said
Martin: “We heard about his ill-health and released him because we don’t want
this man to die in jail; the prosecution is not interesting in prosecuting a
dead man”

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Cllr.
Martin said Sirleaf was released on medical ground because the state wants to
prosecute Sirleaf alive so that he and others can know why they have being
prosecuted.

He
said after the release of Defendant Sirleaf, he was turned over to his lawyer
to seek medical treatment only in the country while the rest of the Defendants
will remain in jail until they can file a valid criminal appearance bond for
their temporary release ahead of the start of the trial.

This
is Sirleaf’s second “medical ground” release since he was arrested on March 1,
2019 and subsequently indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County, who was
sitting in the February 2019 Term of Court.

Solicitor
General Cllr. Syrenius Cephas claimed, in the state’s indictment, that the five
CBL executives while occupying various positions at the CBL in April of 2016 up
to and including August 2018 “knowingly, deliberately and intentionally
colluded and conspired with wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the
Liberian economy when they defraud the CBL and the Government of Liberia by
unauthorizingly printing excess Liberian bank notes amounting to L$2,645,000,000”.

The
state prosecutors further that the five defendants “unauthorizingly paid and cause
to be paid and did pay the amount of US$835,367.72 to Co-Defendant Crane
Currency of Sweden the company” that printed the alleged missing Liberian bank notes
and brought into the country.

The
the five Defendants were arrested following and Presidential Investigative Team
and Kroll Associate Reports.

“In
the printing of the unauthorized 10,000,000 Liberian dollar bank notes
Co-Defendant Crane Currency surreptitiously proceeded to print and caused to be
printed 10,359, 750, Liberian bank notes, 359,750,000 in excess of the contract
amount,” the state prosecutors added.

State
prosecutors said that co-defendants, Weeks, Sirleaf, and Hagbe proceeded to pay
US$12,166, 831.12 to Defendant Crane Currency for the amount of Liberian
dollars notes printed, and US$2,045,141.92 in excess of the amount to be paid
for printing unauthorized L$10,000,000,000 bank notes.


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Liberia

Liberia: ‘Toothless’ Code of Conduct Not Helpful in Fighting Corruption, Legal Luminaries Identify Flaws

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Monrovia – The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is still struggling to have defiant officials of Government to declare their assets. The LACC last week released a list of over 69 persons, including the current Solicitor General, Cllr. Syrennius Cephus, who are yet to declare their assets in flagrant disregard to the National Code of Conduct.

Ironically, Cllr. Cephus in his capacity as Solicitor General upon taking office in June formed the Assets Investigation, Retrieval, Reimbursement Team (AIRReT) headed by Cllr. Arthur Johnson to retrieve government’s assets and/or prosecute individuals who clandestinely amassed wealth from government.
President George Weah recently slammed Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee for her criticism of him and officials of his government’s failure to declare their assets and make it public.

“Mr. President, members of the Legislature, the fight against corruption is not in words, it is in action. You must walk your talk. You cannot preach against corruption and then not declare your assets and keep it locked up. Show us what you came with so that in a few years when you’ve got two houses, we can know that you already had those resources in the bank,” Gbowee asserted on Independence Day. 

However, in his reaction, President Weah said, “I respect the laws of the Republic of Liberia. The law of declaration tells me to declare at certain time. It did not tell me when you declare, you should give your receipt to organizations; it only tells me you declare when you’re entering, when you are leaving you declare. If you have more assets you can go to where you declare and add upon that.”

The National Code of Conduct which calls for the declaration of assets by public officials also states in Section 10.2 that “All such declarations shall be accessible to both the public employer and the general public upon a court order, as well as to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for investigative purposes. 

The LACC in its recent statement said there have been continuous requests for copies of public officials’ declaration, which contain assets, liabilities, net worth, financial and family interest declaration; and constant condemnation from the public against officials for not publishing their assets.

According to the LACC, while such documents can only be obtained through a court order, it welcomes any official who would like to make their declaration public.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared her assets upon taking office and shortly before leaving office, both declarations were made public. 

Many have questioned the essence of declaring assets while it would continue remaining a secret.

Powerless Code of Conduct

Former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott at the third edition of the African Anti-Corruption Day said the National Code of Conduct is not sufficient to satisfy the constitutional requirements for conflict of interest and the fight against corrupt acts in the country.

“I say so because the assets declaration according to the Code of Conduct, says the Executive deposits their assets declaration with GAC and the House of Representative’s deposit with the Chief Clerk, members of the Senate deposits with the Secretary of the Senate while the Judiciary with the clerk of the Supreme Court,” she said.

She said the code of conduct undermines the Constitution requirement to exposure, adding that the remedy for the justification of corruption was provided in the 1986 Constitution but it was defeated by the Code of Conduct.

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“To get a copy of the declaration of any officials, you will have to get a court order and we talked about due process which you have to get a standing and the person concerned have the right to come to defend, so the effect of the Code of Conduct undermines the Constitution requirements of exposure,” she explained.

Justice Scott says if there is a public monitoring embodiment in the Constitution that serves as a deterrent such would prevent corruption.

According to her, Liberians must say if they want to fight corruption there is a need that the Legislature give the code of conduct teeth, “Because the code of conduct as it is powerless.”

She said the African Union convention and the other international bodies established to fight corruption and that started should have started from the immediate past government but nothing was done.

Cllr. Scott: “I recommend that we look at the Code of Conduct for public exposure because once you put yourself up for the public office, be it by election or appointment, you should serve as trustee and as a trustee, you must subject yourself to the public.”

 “So, nationally, the Code of Conduct defeats the Constitution and we should take it seriously because of the implications of corruption. The remedy for the justification of corruption was provided in the 1986 Constitution but the Code of Conduct defeats that so we need to say as a people whether we really want to fight corruption and if we want to do that, we must go back to the legislature and give the Code of Conduct teeth because as it is, it’s powerless.” 

Also speaking, the president of the Liberia National Bar Association, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, said the question in mind of most Liberians is whether the government of Liberia is committed to the recovery of access required through corruption.

“The other question is whether there is any legal framework for access recovery to enable the Government of Liberia to require all access of public officials through corruption?”

Cllr. Gongloe said there are records that the past Liberian governments did not show the serious political will to recover assets acquired by public officials through corruption.

“Most likely, the reason behind this reluctance to recover assets acquired by public officials through corruption was based on public officials’ interest to acquire wealth through the same method as their predecessors. There is a need to shift this thinking, otherwise, Liberia will not develop as fast as every Liberians want it to develop,” Cllr. Gongloe said.

The LNBA president recalled in 1980 the People Redemption Council recovered assets. “The PRC ceased all of the assets of officials of government under the True Wing Party. They actually acquired a bureau of acquisition that was managing rubber farms, buildings, and monies retrieved from officials of government.

Cllr. Gongloe said the current government has the opportunity to demonstrate the political will to recover assets from past and current government officials that are identified as proceed of corruption. “But the question is whether the government has the legal framework and the answer is affirmative.”

He said Liberia is a state party to United Nations convention on corruption and the African Union Convention on the prevention and combating of corruption that is applicable in dealing with access recovery.

Cllr. Gongloe recommended that the Magistrate and Judges should start to issue a search and seizure of items that are presumed to be fruits of crimes.

“Corruption is a means by which funds that belong to people are stolen hence proceeds to corruption are subject to search and seizure warrants which are powerful tools for criminal investigation and when used in a timely manner may be effective in the fight against corruption because it does not require notice in investigating a crime,” he said.


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