20 February 2013

Liberia: Police Back ERU's Involvement in Pleebo's Demonstration

Authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have provided justification for the involvement of its Emergency Response Unit (ERU) into a recent demonstration in Pleebo Sodoken District, Maryland County. Last week, media reports had it that youth from villages and towns in Pleebo-Sodoken District took to the street in protest against what they called bad labor practice by SIFCA-a concession company. But SIFCA had persistently rejected claim by the workers that it was not involved in by labor practice.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, the authorities of the LNP stated that the ERU's involvement was predicated upon what they called the violent nature of the demonstration. The police statement was in response to claim by Pleebo- Sodoken District Representative, Dr. Bhofal Chambers that during the demonstration the ERU police carried out "unilateral arrest of peaceful protestors" in Pleebo Sodoken District, Maryland County.

While expressing utter dismay over Dr. Chambers' claim, the LNP wondered why the Maryland Lawmaker will deliberately accuse the police of wrong doing, when in fact; personnel of the company and properties were under threat by the people he claimed were peaceful protestors.

The Police said the statement attributed to Representative Chambers that his people were being "flogged and illegally arrested by personnel of the ERU", lacks no iota of truth. According to the police, the statement is intended to "blackmail the Liberia National Police and at the same time divert the public attention from the real issues unfolding in the district".

The police statement said, while it will not violate the constitutional rights of people to protest, such protest must be done within the confines of the laws. The police statement pointed out that the ERU was under both moral and legal obligations to restore peace and sanity in the concession area that was under attack by "violent protestors".

The police statement added that the police will not encourage any form of industrial disharmony at any concession site in the country, and is therefore warning those who are in the constant habit of inciting and taking the laws into their own hands to desist, and address their grievances to the relevant government Ministries and Agencies as the police will not hesitate to drastically deal with anyone or group of individuals who may want to take the laws into their own hands.

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