Liberia: 'Unflinching Support for Capital Punishment'

Rape, murder, violence against women.

President Weah expressed how disturbed he was over the uncalled-for rise in rape and SGBV cases in Liberia and called for widespread actions across the country that will nip the crime in the bud

... for those violating minors, President Weah declares

Barely three days after Rev. Dr. Simeon L. Dunbar, National Orator of this Year's Independence Day celebration, joined Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, III, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), requesting the government to reintroduce death penalty for rapists as a means of drastically reducing the harmful act against women and girls across Liberia, a press release from the Executive Mansion says that President George M. Weah has "disclosed his unflinching support for capital punishment for those violating minors".

According to the BBC Ethics Guide, Capital punishment is the practice of executing someone as punishment for a specific crime after a proper legal trial. It can only be used by a state, so when non-state organizations speak of having 'executed' a person they have actually committed a murder.

It may be recalled that both Gen. Johnson and Rev. Dunbar, in separate statements, declared that because of the alarming number of rape cases involving minors, perpetrators should face capital punishment as a means to curtail the harmful act.

Rev. Dunbar used his platform as National Independence Day Orator, in the presence of President George M. Weah, the 54th legislature, government ministers, and Liberia's international partners to call for the death penalty to be reintroduced for rapists.

According to an Executive Mansion's release, President Weah at an arranged meeting on rape and other sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) crimes against women and girls across the country, vowed to act decisively against perpetrators and disclosed his unflinching support for capital punishment for those violating minors.

"With an increasing spike of rape and other sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) crimes against women and girls in the country, the President of Liberia, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, has stepped up his focus and attention to tackle the surging pandemic," the release said.

Weah said as the Country's Feminist-In-Chief, in recent years, and even during the COVID-19 situation, Liberia has seen an unprecedented spike in rape and other SGBV-related cases, something that has attracted his attention.

He, therefore, convened a meeting of line ministries of government and partners on SGBV affairs Wednesday, July 29, 2020, not only to discuss a way forward but also to give appropriate instructions that will get everyone fighting against the debilitating practice on the frontline.

During the meeting, President Weah expressed how disturbed he was over the uncalled-for rise in rape and SGBV cases in Liberia and called for widespread actions across the country that will nip to the bud the unacceptable frequency of sexual gender-based violence against women, including children as young as under two years.

"As President of Liberia, it is my responsibility to lead all efforts to address social and societal irregularities and threats that befall our people or any segment of it. I have stated frequently as Feminist-in-Chief that I have zero tolerance for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and I mean it," the release quoted President Weah.

He instructed the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce to put into place a technical team that comprises relevant stakeholders who will regularly discuss, consult and provide concrete and enforceable roadmap on enhancing the fight against SGBV and to submit to him their findings as promptly as possible for decisive actions.

Geeplaye Nyenswah, a Political Activist, said he is fully in support of the death penalty for those that curly sexually abusing minors for reasons best known to them and damaging the future of those kids.

"I am to support the AFL Chief Staff General Prince C. Johnson statement calling for the death sentence to those who are rapists of infants. This is not good for our beloved country Liberia an amendment should be made in our rape law," he expressed.

The Secretary-General of the Civil Society Human Rights Platform, Adama K. Dempster, has said that while it is true they are concerned about the high wave of reported rape cases and further molestations of women and girls, they are not in support of death penalty for those that sexually abuse women.

Dempster said given the nature of the role of the human rights community, they are working to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

He recounted that on 22 July 2008, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, assented to a bill that amended the 1976 Penal Code by providing that death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole shall be imposed on an offender who, during the commission of the crimes of terrorism or hijacking or armed robbery, causes the death of his victim.

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