8 July 2019

Liberia: 'Govt Will Pay for Independent Pathologist Hired By Odell's Family'

Pres. Weah assures feminist group that his title, 'Feminist-In-Chief', is not for bluff

President Weah has assured a feminist group that the government will accept requests by the family of the late student Odell Sherman to bring in any independent pathologist of their choice to conduct autopsy on the remains of deceased.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Weah gave the assurance Thursday, July 4, 2019 at his Foreign Affairs Ministry Office when he met the leadership of a local group, 'March for Justice', an advocacy alliance of organizations advocating the rights of girls and women in the country.

President Weah further assured the delegation from the 'March for Justice' and family of the deceased that the Government of Liberia will take responsibility to pay the cost for hiring any qualified pathologist when brought in by the family of the late Odell.

The President's meeting with the leadership of the March for Justice came when throngs of placards-carrying young people and other concerned Liberians converged on Capitol Hill seeking government attention, particularly an audience with the President over what they considered, controversies and miseries surrounding the death of a student, Odell Sherman.

The late Odell Sherman

The near-lifeless body of Odell Sherman, 21, who had just completed her WASSCE (national exams) was discovered early Tuesday, May 22, 2019, at the home of Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Giddings in Duazohn, Margibi County.

Amid claims by the family of the deceased that the Liberia National Police have been withholding information from the family or simply playing delay tactics, over what should be a murder investigation, the family have sought the help of an independent pathologist, who they believe can help them understand what happened to Odell.

in a protest with the Liberia National Student Union (LNSU) on July 3, 2019, held at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor along the Somalia Drive, where the government was expected to conduct the autopsy yesterday on Odell's remains, Mrs. Sherman, Odell's biological mother, said after the family had requested the Liberia National Police (LNP) in two different communications to order an independent Pathologist to examine her 21 year-old daughter, the family was informed by LNP spokesman Moses Carter that the state does not have said money.

During the meeting with March for Justice, President Weah called on Liberians to learn to trust and respect national officials and institutions having fiduciary responsibilities to perform the specific tasks for which they were put into office or established.

He said his commitment to fighting abuse, discrimination and exploitation against women and girls remains strong and resolved, and that justice against sexual predators will not be compromised. According to him, rape, domestic abuse and sexual harassment have no place in any civilized society, vowing to visit the full force of the law upon perpetrators.

Child rights advocates Satta Sherif and Titus Kpallah headed the five-member delegation that represented the March for Justice group at the meeting with the President.

The President informed the delegation that, as "Feminist-In-Chief" and Head of State, he would personally ensure that perpetrators of hideous crimes against Liberian women and girls face full, expeditious justice.

"It is very saddening to always hear or see our mothers, sisters and even teens continually molested and victimized by heartless people in this country," the President said.

He added that the protection and defense of women's and girls' rights will remain paramount to him personally and his government generally.

"My taking of the title, 'Feminist-In-Chief' is not for bluff; it is rather to always stand up for the cause of women and girls and against perpetrators of sexual gender-based violence," the President said.

He continued, "In line with my responsibility as the President of Liberia, and Feminist-In-Chief, my government will at all times provide the necessary protection, and defense for women and girls, who face discrimination, abuse and violence."

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