‘Death Penalty for Rapists’

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AFL Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, III says it is saddening that men will even go to the point of raping minors.

AFL Chief of Staff suggests

Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, III, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), has said that in order to put an end to rape in Liberia, there is a need to revisit the issue of the death penalty law.

With financial support from the European Union (EU), Liberia has been compelled to relax capital punishment, to be replaced by life imprisonment; something many critical lawyers and other independent individuals have viewed as a conduit to encourage the commission of crimes since perpetrators, when convicted, spend some time in prison, are fed and, by the will of the President in line with his constitutional duty to pardon, are set free and allowed to live with their victims.

Gen. Johnson said even though the international community does not support this decision of death penalty, “I think with the huge number of statistics we have on rape, there is a need that we revisit the issue of the death penalty for those who sexually abuse our women and girls in Liberia.”

He said it is saddening that men will even go to the point of raping minors, adding: “It is sad that a person who has been sexually abused will make a complaint to the police station, and someone from the security sector also abuses her instead of protecting her.”

The AFL Chief of Staff made the statement at a daylong program under the theme, “Say No to Rape Game Changers Event Program,” organized by fashion model and philanthropist MacDella Cooper in Monrovia over the weekend.

The event was characterized by survivors telling their stories, dramas on rape, speeches, songs depicting rape messages from Liberian musicians, among others.

The program brought together women advocates, women in politics, adolescent girls, female journalists, and men championing women’s rights.

Johnson said when he took over the AFL, the issue of drugs and rape were considered zero-tolerance and that, “after you have been tested positive for drugs, immediately you will be dismissed and have no role to play in the army; and the same applies to rape. After investigation and one is found guilty, he faces the full weight of the law.”

Participants at the Game Changers program calling for an end to rape

Speaking about the issue of drugs, Johnson said if drugs must be taken seriously in Liberia, it must start with all elected and senior government officials, who would be able to set an example before creating awareness.

Without dwelling on just one side of the rape issue, Gen. Johnson, said women who lied about men raping them should also face the full weight of the law.

He called for active involvement of the family, schools, religious and traditional leaders, and the government to address the issue of rape as it is increasing in the Liberian society. He promised not to entertain rapists in the AFL as long as he remains at the helm of the Army.

Hawa Bropleh, an SGBV specialist in Grand Cape Mount County, said the issue of rape is something that is done in an organized way in the rural parts of Liberia. In rural communities, she explained, girls are given in early marriage by their parents, rather than educating them for a better future.

Ingrid Wetterqvist, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, called on the Government of Liberia to enforce the rape law to reduce the number of cases across the country. She said it is important that the government be able to create a safe space for women and girls to be free from all forms of violence in the home, school, community, and job site.

Amb. Wetterqvist encouraged the Game Changers to extend their awareness throughout Liberia, to help educate every citizen about the danger rape poses to the future of the girl child.

A survivor of rape (name withheld) at the program said speaking out about being a survivor of rape is a big step in reclaiming what was robbed from her at a very tender age.

“I must say it is not something that is so easy to say out loud. I have struggled with this for so many years, but I am confident now about speaking out because I know that it will inspire others to share their stories too and free themselves from all the pain, shame, and anguish that come with being sexually abused or assaulted.”

She told the gathering that “one of my very first experiences of rape was at the age of 8. I was raped by a person that I called uncle, a person in whose care my mother left me so he could care to protect me from any harm that came from outside. Little did she know that the harm she was so afraid of was right there under her feet.”

She said the encounter with her uncle was the beginning of her never-ending nightmare as a child because she was raped repeatedly by this same person so many times and was cautioned not to say a word to anyone or she would get into serious trouble.

She said growing up as a child, she was never told that if a man touches her anywhere around her private part it was considered rape or must be reported.

She said, “This is why it is our responsibility and duty as mothers, stepmothers, aunties, and big sisters to protect our young women and girls from these horrible experiences. We should not be ashamed when it comes to educating our girls about rape and the importance of speaking out.”

The survivors urged all Liberians who have survived rape to speak out the truth, adding, “It is hard, but when you do, you are saving someone closer to you. And let’s continue to help educate our younger ones about rape,” she said.

Author

  • Hannah N. Geterminah is a 2016 graduate of the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism with diploma and series of certificates in journalism from other institutions. She has lots of knowledge/ experience in human interest, political, Health, women and children stories. Hannah has worked with the Daily Observers Newspaper and the Liberian media for the past years and has broken many stories. Contact reporter; [email protected] WhatsApp;0770214920

16 COMMENTS

  1. I partially agreed with you general to reduce number in prison and make examples of those who already found guilty.

  2. Getting out of the barrack and getting into social issues and criminals issues that is left with the opinion of the civilian authorities of the court or civilian government. This is perhaps the best way to get the opinion of the military in politics. The first step is to have some citizens to agree, and gradually get them to agree and believe that corruption is rampant. And only the military can handle the issue of rapes and corruption. Stay in the barracks and attend to military issues. Liberian soldiers are in Mali, make a visit. Make a visit to the soldiers at the borders. The civilian authorities are committed to handling the issue of rapes and corruption through the legal system. No matters how tough it is . Stay In The Barracks !!!!!

  3. I agree with you Maj. Gen. Johnson particularly in the case where the victim’s life is taken by these predators. Others should have long sentences with hard labor. #wawarht

  4. Lot need to be changed in Lib Gen. People commit crime and just go in impunity. I think we need to go back on the drawing board n revisit our law

    • It’s impossible to punish criminals when the people who are running the country are themselves criminals. Millions of dollars go missing in daylight and no one is held accountable. People are killed to shut them up and not a single soul is held accountable. Weah builds his real estate empire with money he never had and no one dare lift a finger. Liberia is the true manifestation of a banana republic! You remember the old adage, “if you live in a glass house you can’t throw stones.” There you go…

  5. This general needs to stay out of politics because pretty soon he will get himself in trouble by saying something that could cost him his job.

    • James, you are this ignorant? My God! Who lied to you that a General airing his views on the punishment of criminals is politics?????? Do you want to tell me you lack such elementary knowledge and understanding?

  6. Rape is wrong and the perpetrator should be punish. But issuing the death penalty for rape is over the top. Most rape cases are hard to prove because the victim mistakenly destroy the evidence before they report the case. Also, some cases that are reported as rape are false allegations and misleading. As a military personnel, I don’t think it’s your duty to publicly voice you opinion about a civil matter. Stick to military matters and avoid politics at all cost. We already have many advocates fighting against rape in the country. With your high position in the military, you should be very careful about voicing you opinions about civil matters. The message you send out can cause a negative effect on good order and discipline within the military.

    • Leonardo, rape IS NOT a “civil matter”. Rape is a criminal matter. Deterrence is necessary to curb, prevent, or make certain dangerous crimes (eg. as rape, etc) menace of the past.

      Who lied to you that a General airing his views on the punishment of criminals is politics??????

      Whether an Army General or a Police Colonel, he or she is entitled to his or her human rights to express his or her views on criminal punishment. Such has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

      You people should keep quiet and simply read, since you do not have the epistemological background nor the experience in such matters.

      • Of course, Mr. True or False Nationalist, give the military the chance to do what George is unable to do . They will clean up the mess created by George, and perhaps , cleaned up George and his half of billions , his jet plane and his multiple complexes . The military has made it clear where he stands on social issues, and what solutions will be applied. Hang Them High He Says. True or False Nationalist, the military guy says George is weak, and he and his military can do a better job. And so the to you Mr. True or False Nationalist, want the military to try ? Since he knows better than George ? The military has started expressing their concerns, and it is just a matter of time before the big BANG !!!! Just a matter of time. And then BANG!

  7. A cursory review of our laws controlling the subject matter is key before taking up a position for or against the public pronouncement from the Chief of our National Army. “An Act to Amend Title 26 Liberian Code of Laws Revised, Penal Law, Chapter 50 Relating to Sentencing and Related Matters” was approved December 14, 2012 and printed May 22, 2013.
    Subsection 50.5(a) provides, ‘a person who has been convicted of a felony of the first degree may be sentenced to death or life imprisonment where such penalty is specified by statute, or where not so specified, to a definite term of imprisonment to be fixed by the court, the maximum of which shall be ten years’.

    A comprehensive appreciation of the supra statute (amended) law together with other existing laws mean that it is not forbidden under our jurisprudence to use the death penalty once it is so adjudicated that the particularly type of rape is capital offense or first degree felony.

    However, it has to be intimated that our endorsement of too many international treaties do for us more harms than good at some instances. For example, Liberia is a state-party to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). This legal instrument emphasizes the dignity of life and protection of Human Rights to an extreme extent that it forbids the ‘death penalty’ and proposes life imprisonment. Should our legislators do for us the just, legal and honest service, now is the time to take either of two brave decision: to domesticate the UN ICCPR thereby amending our sentencing law and prohibiting death penalty or to request the president of Liberia as Chief Foreign Policy Maker endowed with the constitutional power of making or ratifying foreign treaties to state our position of acceptance of the ICCPR in part or withdrawal of signature thereby reverting to our existing sentencing laws and enforcing the death penalty.

    Until this can be perfected by actors involved, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia is neither right nor wrong.

  8. Death penalty for rapists? Give me a break! How’s about death penalty for politicians who steal from the government of Liberia? And what’s about the other aspiring “politicos” who cry all the land and make false promises that have the potential to destroy the country? What’s the right punishment that squares well with the “politicos” who make out-of-date, unproductive promises?

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