Statement by the Network of Peace and Security Women in ECOWAS Countries (NOPSWECO) and the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL)
The Network of Peace and Security Women in ECOWAS Countries (NOPSWECO) in collaboration with the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) express deep concerns over the matters involving Representative Dixon Seboe of District #6 Montserrado County and a private citizen of the district, young Ms. Bervina Brooks.
Accordingly, Ms. Brooks was on Thursday June 11, 2020 arrested and subsequently incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison on charges of criminal cohesion and disorderly conduct following a complaint filed against her before the Tweh Farm Magisterial Court by the Representative raises serious concerns.
The circumstances around Ms. Brooks one-night incarceration shows semblance of the abuse of power and use of influence.
As a reflection, Freedom of expression has been recognized as a basic condition for democracy and indeed human progress and development. The free flow of information and ideas is important in many walks of life, and it is the very lifeblood of a democratic system of government. As a result, it is widely accepted that politicians and public figures must tolerate a greater degree of criticism and scrutiny than ordinary citizens however, this has not been the case with Mr. Dixon Seboe as he has sought the collaboration of even the Court in his misuse of power influence and privilege to violate the rights of Ms. Bervina Brooks.
The incarceration happened at a time that human rights institutions and partners are calling for a decongestion of the prison system due to the highly infectious COVID 19 virus crippling the world.
We are even more than shocked that the City Solicitor’s office and the Judge granted the bail order without preliminary hearing to prevent this travesty of justice and continued to violate the rights of the young woman even as she was being sent to the Monrovia Central Prison.
As it was observed outside the Court House on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Representative Dixon Seboe is flexing his political influence and access to power to further intimidate the defendant and also present the neutrality of the hearing into matter before the Court questionable.
We draw the attention of the Ministry of Justice to the alarming rate of crime being committed by some officers of the Liberia National Police especially during the State of Emergency when women should be entitled to the equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights. We therefore call on the Ministry of Justice to ensure the police exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and make arrests for all acts of violence against women, whether perpetrated by public officials or private persons, in the home, in the community, or in official institutions. We also call on the MOJ to ensure law enforcement officers take rigorous official action to prevent the victimization and revictimization of women, and ensure that revictimization does not occur as a result of the omissions of police or gender-insensitive enforcement practices. We draw attention to the ‘alleged’ rape of by Police Officer Emmanuel Wesley, the alleged shooting of Mildred Tamba by Officer James Dunna amongst others:
Noting the above circumstances, we are therefore calling on following agencies and bodies to take actions in the below manner:
- The Ministry of Justice – to investigate the City Solicitor for his decision to take on a civil matter of defamation and turning it into a criminal matter.
- The Judiciary Inquiry Committee through the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia to investigate the Magistrate’s failure to grant bail especially when measures had been announced by the Court to prevent the infectious spread of Coronavirus disease.
- The Speaker and Members of that Honorable body to call to suspend Mr. Dixon Seboe for his attempts to silence a citizen of Liberia through abuse of power.
- Regularly announce an appropriate range of penalties for police violations, from suspension, pay docking and termination, to criminal prosecution for serious violations of human rights by the police and other law enforcement officers.
- Train all officers assigned weapons and monitoring SOE in nonlethal control methods and in riot-control techniques and equipment use
- Assign female officers to guard, search and supervise women in detention and limit matters involving children to female law enforcement officers.
- Regularly conduct bi–monthly virtual mandatory training for all law enforcement officers monitoring the SOE and conduct regular psychological/emotional examinations