RHN & LNCRF Alarm Over Rape Cases
Right Holders Network in collaboration with the Liberia National Children’s Representatives Forum Calls for Re-arrests, Speedy Trial and Judicial Reform to end the culture of impunity in Liberia.
Ballah F Saywala and Jutomue Doetein said it is no secret that the quest to ensure that the culture of impunity and selective justices which are underlining factors impairing our judicial system remains a holistic endeavor.
The two advocacy groups said they are quite aware that the cause of the Liberian children is a frictional force that conjures our social ideological sameness.
“It is with this background that we the Right Holders Network (RHN) and the Liberian National Children’s Representatives forum (LNCRF), have undertaken this worthy cause to flagged out ills of society and put forth recommendations for redress, noting with great concern the reoccurrence of rape across our country.
RHN &LNCRF Speaking in a press conference alleged that the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights report published in October 2016 indicates that the number of reported cases of rape is extremely high and that perpetrators are rarely held accountable, this is a clear signal that our judicial system requires an urgent and vigorous reform.
Currently, the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection has recorded and reported 248 Rape cases from January to July 2018. And a 2016 report from the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection reported 1680 Rape cases to have occurred through the country. According to prison data received by UNMIL in June 2016, Courts convicted 34 individuals for rape in all of Liberia in 2015, out of over 803 reported cases that year. While many alleged perpetrators were arrested, they were rarely brought to trial.
The issues of selective justice and impunity are factors that have led to a widespread culture of impunity for SGBV, particularly for rape, putting women and girls at a continued serious risk of sexual violence.
There are also many other factors underlying impunity for rape in Liberia and include but not limited to legal and institutional weaknesses, social mores and attitudes, corruption and lack of will or diligence on the part of Government officials.
In the wake of all of the above-mentioned situations and the recent statistics from the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, the United Nations Mission in Liberia and our own investigations conducted, we are deeply concern about the makeshift release of two alleged rape perpetrators in persons of Momolu V. O. Sirleaf and Varney Jersey respectively as well as the perpetual silence of the Ministry of justice on the alleged Rape cases involving Morrias Waylee.
They said on May 3, 2017 edition of the FrontPage Africa Newspaper reported an alleged rape case involving Morias Waylee a member of the 53rd National Legislature and the Co-Chair on the House of Representative committee on Human and Civil Right.
The former lawmaker was also charged with ‘tampering with the witness,’ which is a violation of Chapter 12 sub-chapter C section12.40b1 and Chapter 12 sub-chapter C Section 12.41 of the Revised Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia.
Since the May 2016 To date, the Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Justice and regulatory authorities have failed to give any information about the 13-year-old survivor, who was said to have being sick and hiding in a sick bush and Morrias Waylee is now a free man while little Regina is living with perpetual trauma.
Gender-based violence has nothing to do with tradition and he must be prosecuted through the law. We were happy when Minister Piso Saydee Tarr of the Ministry Gender, Children and Social Protection promised to prevail on the judiciary to reopen the investigation into the case but this has not yielded results.
In the case of Varney Jersey of the Liberian National student’s union, He was charged on November 19, 2016 by the women and children protection section of the Liberia National Police with statutory rape which is in violation Section 14.70a of the 2005 Rape Law of Liberia.
The charge sheet indicated that Varney, 30, was arrested and charged following a complaint levied against him for the alleged raping of a 15-year-old girl in his Mamba Point residence.
According to their investigation, Varney jersey was freed on a medical bail since April of this year, but since his release, he has been found in social gathering and roaming around the country and continent very healthy.
Additionally, upon his release he was asked to turn over all traveling document to the court, noting that contrary, Varney attended the ALL-AFRICA STUDENTS UNION (AASU) 7 TH AFRICA STUDENTS AND YOUTH SUMMIT held in KIGALI, RWANDA JULY 24 – JULY 28, 2018 Under The Auspices of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Rwanda.
How can an alleged rapist awaiting court trial be representing the country to the outside world? This is unfortunate and we must be serious as a country and people, the two groups wonder.
Mr. Saywala and Doetein also said in May of this year Momolu V O Sirleaf an employee of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was accused, arrested and convicted of statuary Rape an act which is in violation of Section 14.70 of the New Penal Code of Liberia.
According to them the 11-Year-old victim reportedly lived with Mr. Sirleaf at his residence in the kendeja Community, when he allegedly took advantage of her.
Sadly, criminal court E has also released him on bond an accomplishment of using hid connection he had reportedly bragged of that would earn him an escape from justice. We think this is a slap in the face of our justice system.
“On November 19, 2016 the day Varney Jersey was indicted, there were 16 other persons who were indicted also and they are still stocked behind bars with nothing being said or heard about them. They too are Liberians and must be given due process. Varney and V. O Sirleaf are not above the laws of the state. We are worried that the release of Varney Jersay and Momolu Sirleaf without a speedy investigation and the refusal of the Ministry of Justice to arrest Morrias Waylee for immediate prosecution is a calculated attempt to undermine the trust of a majority of the Liberian people in the judicial process of our beloved country Liberia.”
Liberia is a signatory to many regional and international protocols which includes but not limited to The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Convention on the Rights of the Child and our own Liberian Children’s Law.
The Instruments which strongly frown at Rape and Sexual exploitation and abuse in all its forms and oblige her as a country to ensure all of the provisions are implemented.
The children advocates said despite the Pits-fall in our judicial system, we are still optimistic that the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender, Children and social Protection and the Ministry of Justice can still institute the needed reforms and ensure that justice will be done to all.
Based upon the above points mentioned, we do strongly recommend the following for immediate attention:
“Ministry of Justice order Varney Jersey and Momolu Sirleaf rearrested as soon as possible and serve them and other alleged rapists speedy trial.
We also call on the Ministry of Justice to arrest Morrias Waylee and prevail on local authorities to show the where about of the 13-year-old girl who is a potential evidence in the adjudication of the case.
Criminal court E should provide a public justification as to how Varney Jersey Travel to Rwanda in July of this year when he was asked to turn over his passport and other traveling documents.
Today, we also call on the Ministry of Gender, Children and social Protection, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Association of Females Lawyers of Liberia- AFEL and other civil society organization to begun constructively engaging the Ministry of Justice to ensure the arrest and re-arrests of Mr. Momolu V.O Sirleaf, Varney Jersey and Morrias Waylee.
As it is often said that justice delay it is also justice denied, therefore we call on the Ministry of Justice Through Criminal Court-E to fast track all cases on its docket.
Based on the above statistic we recommend to His Honor the chief Justices of the Republic of Liberia and the National Legislature, the creation of additional rape courts so as to expeditiously adjudicate cases of rape and other forms of sexual Gender Based Violence.”
They want to make it unequivocal that the decision of the Liberian Senate to amend the Rape law from non-Billable to making it a billable offense do not support the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Right Holders Network, Liberian National Children’s Representative Forum and other civil society organizations geared towards ending rape in Liberia.
As such we like to close by calling on the 54th National Legislature not to amend the rape law of Liberia to a billable offense, furthermore, we hope the authorities concern will not ignore this call but will take it seriously because it matters to showing the authenticating that the pro-poor agenda of our government is also geared towards ensuring that everyone has access to justice despite economic condition or social connection.
They used the medium to call on all human right groups in Liberia to join them in this endeavor as they may be called upon at any time to stage a petition at the National Legislature, Temple of Justice or at the Foreign Ministry, office of the President of the Republic of Liberia in demand for justice.