The chairperson of the National Children and Youth Advisory Board (NCYAB) of the Defense for Children International-Liberia (DCI) has described the recent death of a five-year-old child, Blessing Johnson, as barbaric, and therefore called for murder charge against the perpetrator.
Officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) who previously investigated the case charged the perpetrator with manslaughter, a homicide without malice aforethought, which the NCYAB says is less in weight, because it does not constitute the crime committed as far as circumstances surrounding the case are concerned.
Little Blessing, according to Ms. Pauline Gartor of NCYAB, was reportedly beaten to death in the 72nd Community in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia on March 18, 2019, by a lady identified as Melissa K. Tokpa, 33.
Ms. Gartor, who spoke at a recent press conference in Monrovia, recalled that on March 18, 2019, the victim reportedly defecated on herself and messed up the bathroom, a situation that reportedly prompted defendant Melissa K. Tokpa to beat little Blessing unmercifully until she died.
Ms. Gartor said after defendant Tokpa noticed that the child was helpless and lifeless, she then contacted her neighbor, who assisted her by taking the child to the James Davies Hospital in the Nezoe Community, where doctors pronounced the child dead upon arrival.
“This means that Ms. Tokpa should not be charged for the crime of manslaughter as evidenced in the Police Charge sheet, but should have been charged with murder, because her action was intentional,” Ms. Gartor said.
According to the criminal law definition, murder is a homicide crime defined as the intentional killing of one human being by another with malice aforethought, which is a state of mind, or intent, the requirement that makes a homicide a murder.
Therefore, “we as Child Rights Activists, we totally disagree with the LNP for charging defendant Tokpa with a lesser crime of manslaughter, which we strongly feel will undermine the case; something that promotes the culture of impunity and violence against minors.”
According to Ms. Gartor, the level at which wrongful acts against children and women in Liberia have extended, as in the case of Blessing, is unimaginable and unacceptable, “and this must be resisted at all cost.”
“The inhumane details that accompany the manner and form in which the life of Blessing was willfully shortened is no less than a crime against humanity,” she added.
Ms. Gartoe used the occasion to call on the government to take effective measures to provide a safe and healthy environment for children.
She added that Liberia has instituted laws for children’s protection and development. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the government to enforce those policies to protect the next generation of Liberian leaders.
She said there is no doubt that Liberia is among the 20 enlisted countries, where in every five minutes a child dies as a result of violence, physical assault, emotional or multiple types of violence.