5 October 2017

Liberia's Amended Rape Law Sparks Protest At Capitol Hill in Monrovia

Photo: Liberian Legislature
Members of the Liberian legislature

Monrovia — A group of young advocates under the banner Concern Citizens of Liberia yesterday stormed the Capitol Building where they called on the Senate to establish a fast track to handle rape cases rather than amending the rape law by making it bailable.

The Liberian Senate on Wednesday voted in favor of making rape a bailable crime. The rape law of Liberia has been a controversial law that has landed several persons behind bars.

The senators took the decision following a report from its' statutory Committee on Judiciary recommending that Rape should be a bailable offense as is provided for in the draft Act submitted by Sen. Milton Teahjay of Sineo County.

The Committee also recommends that an accused person on bail for the commission of the crime of rape should report to the Court which granted the bail on a monthly basis and that reporting should occur on the monthly anniversary of the grant of the bail.

The Judiciary Committee also noted from the comparison of the original Rape Law and the proposed amendment that the punishment provided in the original Rape Law appears to be excessive and therefore unconstitutional.

Article 21 (d) (ii) of the 1986 constitution of Liberia provides that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor excessive punishment inflicted".

In the opinion of the judiciary Committee, the punishment for rape as provided in the Rape Law is excessive and therefore unconstitutional.

Rape is a non-bailable offense under the current Rape Law of Liberia with perpetrators having no access to parole while serving his/her term in prison.

The passed amended version of the Rape Law has been sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

The calls of the protesters, however, went unnoticed as it was reported that virtually no lawmaker was in the Capitol Building, mostly being out on campaign sprees.

The Head of the group Mariama T. Toure said they the lawmakers should rather call for the setting up a fast track court so as to help to speedily adjudicate rape cases in the country.

She added that already with the high prevalence of rape, such amendments will encourage more men to go on the rampage of raping young girls in the country.

"We are calling on our mothers, our sisters, and all well-meaning Liberians to stand up against this law."

"We will not rest until our voices are heard", she said.

Also speaking, Gabriel T. Settro says they will not rest until the rights of girls and women are protected.

He also called on other civil society organization to join them against what he terms as a wicked act coming from the Senator.

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