Liberia: Justice Minister Gets 72 Hours to Designate Venue for June 7 Protest

Some of the ex-rebel fighters at a recent press conference in Monrovia

Justice Nagbe says June 7 protest backed by the constitution

Amid mounting tension for members of the Council of Patriots (CoP), organizers of the June 7 planned protest, the Justice-in-Chamber of the Supreme Court on Monday, June 3, 2019 issued an ultimatum to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that by Wednesday, June 5, to designate a specific venue where the government representative and protesters would meet to receive the protesters' petition.

Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe also gave green light for the June 7 protest, which he said was backed by Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution.

That article provides that "All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good to instruct their representatives to petition the government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances, and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations."

Justice Nagbe took the decision after hours of closed door meetings with the CoP, the MOJ, the Citizens United to Sustain Peace and Democracy, and the Center for the Protection of Human Rights. The meeting was held in Nagbe's Chamber at the Temple of Justice. It grew out of a writ for mandamus prayed for by the Citizens United to Sustain Peace and Democracy by and through the Center for the Protection of Human Rights against the MoJ and Chairman of the Joint Security, as well as the CoP.

Mandamus is a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty.

Minutes after the meeting, a member of the CoP, Henry Costa informed journalists that the parties agreed to decide on the specific venue for the protest. "The meeting went very well and we are going to work in line with Justice Nagbe's mandate," Costa declared.

Costa added, "We have an immediate plan that if President George Weah could just declare his assets and sack his Finance Minister Samuel Tweh, and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray."

Another member of the CoP, District#10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah, said that the meeting was successful because it met the CoP's expectation, noting, "The only thing I can say, is that the conference went well."

In his intervention, Patrick Weah, chairman of the Citizens United to Sustain Peace and Democracy revealed that Justice Nagbe issued a three-day ultimatum to Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean to provide them with the specific venue of the protest.

"We are waiting for the minister and the members of the CoP to provide us with the specific venue," Weah said, adding, "Article 13 of the Constitution also gives us that right."

"Let them tell us where they would be meeting to present their petition, preferably Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex located in Paynesville or the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) located on the UN Drive," Weah said.

Article 13(a) states: "Every person lawfully in the Republic shall have the right to move freely throughout the country to reside in any part thereof, and to leave therefrom subject however to the safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others. (b) "Every Liberian citizen shall have the right to leave and to enter Liberia at any time. Liberian citizens and non-Liberian residents may be extradited to foreign country for prosecution of a criminal offense in accordance with the provisions of an extradition treaty or other reciprocal international agreements in force. Non-Liberian residents may be expelled from the country for cause."

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