17 July 2017

Liberia: INCHR Condemns Clara Town Saga

The Independent National Commission on Human Right (INCHR) has strongly condemned the recent action in the slum community of Clara town.

At a press confab on Friday last week, the Acting Chairperson of the Commission Reverend Attorney Bartholomew B. Colley says, "We want to categorically state in clear and unequivocal terms that the action of some residents of Clara Town community which hindered the free movement of Unity Party Standard Bearer and Vice President of Liberia, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai, and members of his delegation is unfortunate and further undermines the quest for political competition and consensus building".

Commissioner Colley stressed that the action which led to violence and the arrest of one person is unacceptable, irresponsible and reckless and urged all political parties to condemn such action and also call on their supporters to completely desist from all violent acts at their rivals' rallies and conduct their activities consistent with the electoral law of Liberia.

"The INCHR wants everyone including the ruling establishment, oppositions and the general citizenry to freely express themselves, state their disenchantments and show what they are capable of doing to deserve the voters trust", he added.

The INCHR disclosed that they want the 2017 electoral process to be within the ambit of civility and the rule of law, noting that it is the Commission's hope that all actors will do all it takes to avoid the use of violence, physical or verbal, in attempt to win the elections, adding that, they will actively engage every political party in these elections so as to put in place the necessary safeguards for avoiding violence.

However, he said the media will also found part of this important endeavor as the nation strives in protecting the democracy and maintaining the peace all Liberians are enjoying.

Commissioner Colley said that the freedom of choice and association should be unfettered; stating that all forms of discrimination, name calling and anti-democratic tenets should be forbidden.

Commissioner Colley said that the position of an individual or identity and association should not be the basis of inclusion or exclusion from any democratic electoral process.

Commissioner Colley said that the central thing and focus in these elections to prioritize is the means through which education, health, and agriculture systems among others can get better in the country, and called on all political parties and candidates to place significant focus on these things.

Commissioner Colley pointed out that the path to a genuine reconciliation should come with the campaign adding that, the best and appropriate way to reconcile the country is now if those politicians are sincere.

Attorney Colley reminded politicians to uphold the Ganta and Farmington Declarations which he said clearly summarize shared intent of political parties to maintain the peace and adding that the continuous reaffirmation to those documents is laudable and add value to Liberia's democracy.

"The experiences from our civil war and the reading from the Rwanda conflict are sufficient to warn us about the danger of hate speech or inflammatory rhetoric and discriminatory speeches. Needless to remind all of us those incidents of inflammatory statements, mob actions at political opponents' rallies and ethnic bigotry are all acts that are inimical to violence free elections," he emphasized.

Commissioner Oretha S. Davis for her part said the Commission will investigate the incident on the Bushrod Island, and urged other parties to maintain the peace.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Adolphus Wade noted that the INCHR has not received complaint from any political party about the saga in Clara, and they have seen no video footage from there to know what happened.

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