7 February 2013

Liberia: Gov't Drops Charges Against Campaigners for Change Boss

The Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice has dropped charges against the Campaigners for Change Executive Director, Mr. Vandallarh Patricks. The GoL had charged Mr. Patricks of Terrorism and Impersonation among others.

Magisterial Judge, Nelson Thinea, dropped the charges against Mr. Patricks on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 after state prosecutors failed to provide prosecutorial evidence against him. Among other things, the prosecution team led by Montserrado County Attorney Daku Mulbah said the state could not press charges against the accused because the Liberian Constitution, which is regarded as the organic law of the land, guarantees every citizen the right to freedom of expression.

Atty. Mulbah's assertions contradict the prosecutors' earlier claim that they had enough evidence to convict Mr. Patricks on the announced charges. For their part, the lawyers of the defendant described the state's move as wonderful.

The lawyers of the defendant is led by former Solicitor Tiawon Gongloe, including Cllr. Negbalee Warner and Cllr. Alfred Brownell of Green Advocates among others. Cllr. Gongloe furthered that the prosecution's submission was in keeping with the dreams of the founding fathers of Liberia as supported by the United Nations' High Panel; saying such values were only achievable with the upholding of strong democratic tenants.

Shortly after his release, the Campaigners for Change boss expressed gratitude to his team of lawyers for the free legal services offered him. He described his detention as illegal, saying it is not only "undemocratic, but Demon-cratic". He said he was picked up by unidentified men dressed in plain clothes last Friday.

Mr. Patricks described them as officers of the Presidential Elite Security Guards, Executive Protective Service (EPS) formerly of the Special Security Service (SSS). Patrick added he was briefly investigated before been turned over to the National Security Agency (NSA) and subsequently to the Liberia National Police (LNP).

Police charged he was arrested for planning series of violent actions against the UN High Level Panel members who were holding a post 2015 MDGs development meeting in Monrovia last week. He was arrested on his way home in Sinkor for a press release he had placed on Face book calling for demonstration in the full glare of the High Level Panel Members upon their arrival at the Roberts International Airport.

Mr. Patrick was arrested just two days after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had assured the citizens that their rights to free expression would be protected. Two days before Mr. Patricks' arrest and subsequent incarceration, President Johnson-Sirleaf was also quoted in the media as saying she had no problem with demonstration against her government provided such demonstration would be peaceful.

The president also noted she was aware of many instances when citizens have demonstrated in other countries, especially before international guests, displaying placards, a comment several prominent personalities including government officials supported.

Copyright © 2013 Heritage. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.