29 May 2019

Liberia: CSO Sues GOL, Protesters

Photo: New Republic
Some officials of the Council of Patriots during a previous press conference

Liberian human rights lawyer Cllr. T. Dempster Brown has filed a petition for the alternative writ of mandamus against the Liberian government and the organizers of the pending June 7 protest, Council of Patriots (COP), requesting the Supreme Court to confine protesters at certain locations during protest.

Filing the petition on Tuesday, 28 May, the counsel says he represents the Citizens United to Sustain Peace and Democracy, a group that he says raises concerns that the protesters will violate the rights of other citizens who will not form part of the protest.

Cllr. Brown's action comes ahead of another Liberian lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson who recently threatened a lawsuit against the COP's pending protest on grounds that he is a taxpayer who has his family and properties that he does not want to suffer any injury through protest.

The writ of mandamus is issued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform a mandatory action.Allegations of corruption, the poor state of the economy and a US$25m mop - up exercise are among many other reasons why opposition and critics of President George Manneh Weah's regime want to protest in demand of reforms.

President Weah and international partners, including the UN, ECOWAS and AU have met with protest organizers COP for dialogue, but the COP insists it will go ahead with the mass assembly during which it will present its grievances to the government.

But Cllr. Brown and his Civil Society Organization (CSO) have problems with the COP's communication to the Minister of Justice, stating that the protest will commence on 7 June, meaning that the protest will continue indefinitely until protesters' demands are met.

Cllr. Brown says he wants the petition for the alternative writ of mandamus to lie because the Minister of Justice granted the protesters' request without designating a specific venue where the government and the COP will meet for the presentation of the COP's petition on June 7.

The lawyer argues that safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals, rights and freedom of others are the concern of every government all over the world and the Justice Department or Ministry of Justice headed by the Attorney General implements these functions.

As such, Cllr. Brown contends that the failure of Attorney General Cllr. Frank Musa Dean to designate a specific venue where government representative and the COP will meet for the presentation of their petition will violate the rights of other citizens who will not protest.

The Civil Society Organization (CSO) represented by Cllr. Brown is concerned that on June 7, parents will not allow their children to go to school, health workers will not go to work, all markets, stores and shops will be closed down because there is no designated venue for the presentation of petition by the protesters.

The group adds that the June 7 protest is creating fear in investors, teachers, parents and health workers.

On the basis of their concerns, Cllr. Brown and his group have asked the Supreme Court to designate either the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville or the Antoinette Tubman Stadium on UN Drive as venue where government the COP will meet for the presentation of petition.

The Civil Society Organization (CSO) represented by Cllr. Brown further asks the Supreme Court to order the government to provide security for the COP, and that the COP be given one day for the presentation of its petition.By Winston W. Parley

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