4 October 2012

Liberia: Supreme Court Cites Gov't

The Supreme Court of Liberia has cited the government here and human rights lawyer Counselor T. Dempster Brown in response to a petition filed by the latter on September 28, 2012, seeking to stay government's plans to spend US$4million to demolish the unfinished national defense ministry in Congo Town, approximately worth US$25m with bullet-proof materials.

The Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration had earlier announced plans to demolish the unfinished building and remove residents of the Peace Island community adjacent the site for the construction of a ministerial complex that would contain 10 ministries and agencies. The US$60m ministerial complex is to be constructed by the Government of the People's Republic of China under a bilateral cooperation.

The Government of Liberia represented by the Justice and Defense ministries on one hand, and the Center for the Protection of Human Rights represented by J. Melvin Page and Cllr. Dempster Brown on the other, have been cited to appear before the high court this Friday, October 5, 2012.

Last month, Cllr. Brown petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition after the government identified the proposed defense ministry and the Peace Island community as site for the construction of the ministerial complex.

On September 20, 2012, Information Minister Lewis Brown announced that all legitimate land owners surrounding the proposed construction site should submit copies of their land deeds and relevant documents to the Ministry of Public Works.

The Liberian Government says it will only compensate legitimate property owners, not squatters, who illegitimately acquired properties around the multi-million unfinished Israeli-built defense ministry now earmarked for demolition.

In his petition, Cllr. Brown told the high court that Liberia's 19th President Samuel Kanyon Doe used tax payers' money to construct the proposed defense ministry therefore, their interest is being adversely affected if the current administration should go ahead to demolish the structure.

He noted that the blueprint of the building is not available in Liberia, thus, destroying such a "sensitive building" for the Liberian people's security clearly indicates that the government is not interested in completing all developed structures left behind by previous administrations.

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