14 October 2013

Liberia: No One Is Above the Law - Asserts Liberia's Peace Envoy

Liberia's Peace Ambassador, George MannehWeah, has urged his fellow compatriots to respect the rule of law for the peace and stability of the country. Amb.Weah wants all Liberians to live in the confines of the law.

According to him, no one is above the law.

He made these comments on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at a special program held for the partial release of the Managing Editor of the FrontPage Africa (FPA) Newspaper, Mr. Rodney Sieh.Mr. Sieh, a prominent Liberian journalist, was ordered jailed by the Civil Law in August of this year because of his failure to pay the amount of US$1,534,000.00 and L$10,500 to former agriculture minister, Dr. Chris Toe for damages in a libel suit.In addition, Mr. Sieh also failed to pay US$90,000 and L$6,800 as cost of the court. It can be recalled that sometimes ago, Dr. Toe sued the Management of FPA for libel.

Toe claimed the paper defamed his reputation when it published series of articles linking him to corruption. According to him, the published articles against him were not based on facts.

FrontPage Africa took an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia, but was unable to perfect the appeal bond. Based on the legal proceedings, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court judgment and ordered the bail of Cost on the FPA.

The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of justice in the country.Despite this ruling against the FPA, the paper has since stood by its story against Dr. Toe. Mr. Sieh persistently stated that he did not do anything wrong.Mr. Sieh spent a little over 40 days behind bars at the Monrovia Central Prison, otherwise known as South Beach before he was released to his lawyers.

The Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 granted Mr. Sieh a compassionate leave for the period of 30 days effective as of October 8, 2013.

In a communication dated October 7, 2013 and addressed to Cllr. Beyan D. Howard, Mr. Sieh's lawyer, a copy of which is in possession of this paper, the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Christiana P. Tah, said this is in keeping with Chapter 34, Section 34.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law, 1LCLR. According to Minister Tah, the government action was also based on a request by his lawyers.

Speaking further, Amb.Weah, who is also the standard bearer of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), mentioned that Liberia has suffered for too long, warning that no condition should be created to slip the country back into its ugly past.

"We must turn a new page to move forward. The press should fight for Rodney Sieh, but that should be done in the confines of the law. I hope that there will be smooth negotiations. The media must put the best reason on the table," he stressed.

"The media is the strength of this nation. When you write and speak, people listen to you and read your work," he stated.

Meanwhile, the Liberia's peace envoy promised to meet with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to discuss issues relative to the permanent release of Mr. Sieh and growth and development of the country.

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