Liberia: MOJ Agrees to Prosecute Police Officer Accused of Rape
... The Ministry’s decision comes after the INCHR filed a Writ of Mandamus, at the Supreme Court compelling the prosecution of Officer, Joshua During for alleged rape.
The Ministry of Justice has finally decided to prosecute a senior officer of the Liberia National Police who has been accused of raping a mid-ranking female officer — at the headquarters of the police.
Officer Joshua During allegedly raped his subordinate on November 25, 2021, after he had summoned her in his office at about 4:45 p.m. However, the police, via its Deputy Inspector General for Crime Services, Prince Mulbah, noted that the elements required in authenticating the truthfulness of a rape allegation as required by law were not discovered while investigating the rape allegation against During.
The police investigation did not deter the victim who last month filed a complaint to the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, which then filed a petition to Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokolie, who now serves as the Justice in Chamber for a Writ of Mandamus, as a means of compelling the Ministry of Justice and the Director of Police to indict officer Joshua During for the alleged rape.
The INCHR in its petition claimed that, despite the victim filing a formal complaint against During, police authorities have failed to entertain said grievance and cannot determine whether or not the allegation of rape levied by the female junior officer has sufficient magnitude to warrant a formal charge of rape against the accused.
But after the writ was filed, the Ministry of Justice conceded the INCHR petition which, among other things, calls for During’s prosecution for the alleged rape. The Ministry’s concession came after Justice Wolokollie had a conference meeting with both the INCHR lawyers and that of the state concerning the Writ of Mandamus.
At the end of the conference, the Assistant Minister for Litigation, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh announced that they conceded to the petition as a means of allowing transparency to clear public doubts regarding the matter. Cllr. Wesseh added that a formal request will be made to the police to surrender the officer During to the Office of Montserrado County Attorney for investigation of the rape allegation.
Officer During, who is the Liberia National Police Montserrado regional commander, has denied all allegations linking him to the crime and appeared vindicated by the police Professional Standard Division following an investigation, but the decision sparked public outcry due to the manner in which the investigation was handled.
However, his accuser has repeatedly claimed that her revelation about the November 25, 2021 incident involving officer During is the truth and nothing else. The victim who, before the INCHR’s involvement, had expressed dissatisfaction about the police authorities’ handling of the case, worked as a Patrol Officer, a job she held for about a decade. She also disclosed that comments of mockery have been directed at her since she took to the media to seek justice, amid fear that there would be no redress to the matter.
The police investigation, according to the INCHR, was absurd as it was conducted in a manner that was questionable.
Rape, under Liberia's new penal code, is a crime against the state and is punishable by jail sentence of 7 to 10 years or more.
But the police, after investigating the allegation against During, rubbished the victim's claim entirely — terming it as false and misleading. The Investigation report, which was released on February 7, claimed that the victim’s allegation that Officer During forcibly had sex with her in his office was false.
Contrary to this, the chief investigator of the case, Col. Mulbah, disclosed that examination and other checkups conducted did not show any physical injuries or bruises as evidence to suggest an act of force used, as the alleged crime was being portrayed.
He added that both officers During and the victim appeared to have a close relationship prior to the incident, which was traceable by phone calls on the call log.