Scores of children yesterday gathered in front of the Capitol Building, the seat of their representatives, to “protest injustice and to demand justice”.
The young people are demanding justice for Shaki Kamara, the teenager who was killed by US-trained armed military officers during a standoff involving unarmed protestors in the township of West Point in August of this year.
The children, predominantly residents of West Point, under the banner of The Monrovia Children & Youth March (MCYM), chanted anti injustice slogans, saying; “The life of Shaki Kamara can be compared to that of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.”
“Our brother Shaki’s life is as important to us as that of Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and other officials in this government. Shaki is our hero! We demand unconditional and uncompromising justice,” the group of children shouted, in the presence of Gender Minister Julian Duncan Cassel.
In their petition presented to the Legislature, the children expressed disappointment in the President’s decision to prosecute those culpable of the shooting under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), saying that a fragile state like Liberia neither has military lawyers nor a UCMJ to prosecute those guilty of crimes against humanity.
The statement further said: “We demand that the US-trained Liberian Army be exempted from any investigation or prosecution in the West Point shooting because the army does not have the capacity, and as such, we call on you our representatives immediately to seek foreign military experts to implement the UCMJ.
“We demand that Minister Samukai be made to apologize to the children of Liberia, especially those of West Point, for misleading the world about what happened in West Point. The Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Daniel Ziankhan must also be made to apologize for intentionally saying that “Liberians should pay [more] attention to building more Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) than focusing on a single case, that is, Shaki Kamara’s death.
“We demand that the 53rd Legislature set up its own investigative committee to probe the West Point quarantine shooting incident,” the group spokesperson Abraham M. Keita VI declared.
According to Keita, the children are eagerly awaiting the government and international partners’ response to their demands or else, they said, “we will be left with no alternative but to take legal action against the government of Liberia before the ECOWAS Court or the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
Receiving the petition, Senator Clarice Jah and Representative Gabriel Nyenkan commended the children for their peaceful protest.
In separate statements, both lawmakers expressed concern about the investigation, but maintained that the children’s case will shortly be placed on the agenda of both chambers for further action in keeping with legislative procedure.
It may be recalled that President Sirleaf appointed a panel to probe the shooting incident and to report its findings to her within ten days. It took the panel almost a month to present its report to the President. Thereafter, President Sirleaf instructed the Chief of Staff of the Army to prosecute those culpable under the UCM, something that is yet to take place.