8 August 2017

Liberia: Riot Police Deployed At Supreme Court

For fear of protest over the controversial Code of Conduct (CoC), the Liberian National Police (LNP) yesterday deployed several officers from the Police Support Unit (PSU) to the grounds of the Temple of Justice where the Supreme Court is situated. The officers replaced the unarmed judicial officers that had been defending the entrance to the Temple of Justice. Meanwhile, the PSU officers did not search judicial employees and those who went to the Temple of Justice to attend to legal matters.

However, the deployment of the LNP officers was due to the rising cases of protests by supporters of people that voiced out their anger against the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the CoC, a source at the judiciary has told the Daily Observer.

Yesterday's deployment coincides with a recent pronouncement by some lawmakers, among them Maryland County Senator Dan Morias, to organize impeachment proceedings against three of the five justices of the Supreme Court. The lawmakers claimed that their recent judgments in CoC related cases demonstrate that the justices were allegedly biased or incapable of performing the functions of their offices by clearing the nomination of Harrison Karnwea of the Liberty Party (LP) and Jeremiah Sulunteh of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) to contest the October presidential and legislative elections as vice running mates to the political leaders of the aforementioned parties. Up to press time last night, it was not clear whether or not there is a possible threat of protest as a result of the alleged impeachment proceedings.

In recent times, there have been two protests at the Temple of Justice led by people believed to be supporters of Montserrado County District#15 legislative aspirant and former assistant minister for administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, Abu Kamara, who the authorities at the National Elections Commission (NEC) denied participating in the pending electoral process. Another protest was staged before the ruling that reversed the NEC's earlier rejection of Karnwea and Sulunteh from also participating in the electoral process by the Supreme Court. "Those terrifying incidents are behind the deployment of the officers," a judicial source hinted.

"There has been a series of discussions between the justices and the hierarchy of the LNP before the officers were deployed. They are here to beef-up our security strength and to ensure the safety of the employees and public facilities," the judicial source said. "They are deployed at strategic areas at the Temple of Justice."

Employees who spoke anonymously informed the Daily Observer that the deployment of the police has created fear among employees. "When I arrived at work this morning I was surprised to see police officers deployed at the entrances of the court," a female employee said.

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