‘Dumoe’s Arrest Undermines Weah’s Free Speech Promises’

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Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, president, LNBA: “Dumoe did not fight any of our wars. He does not know how to assemble an M1 gun before AK-47, and he does not have any record of violent crime.”

-Rights advocate Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe asserts

The President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe has condemned the arrest of opposition stalwart Menipakei Dumoe and termed it as a slap in the face of President George Weah’s signing of the press freedom act named after late Journalist Kamara Abdullah Kamara, aimed at abolishing criminal defamation.

The police arrested Dumoe on charges of a post he placed on his Facebook page indicating that “We don’t need free bags of rice: I say we the poor in Monrovia need AK-47’s so our leaders can take us seriously.”

The police, however, say Dumoe’s post is prejudicial to the state and also undermines the security of the country that is already fragile.

Dumoe is currently detained at the Headquarters of the Liberia National Police waiting to be charged. However, Cllr. Gongloe, who disassociated his statement from that of the LNBA claimed that Dumoe has been charged with sedition.

The law amended chapter 11 of the Penal law of 1978 repealing sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the President, sedition and criminal malevolence.

Prior to the signing into law of the act, speech offenses were prosecuted in criminal courts in Liberia. It was a tool to intimidate and punish journalists and political opponents before a trial is even started. Civil redress has now supplanted the criminal media offenses in protecting the reputation of an individual and institutions from undue libel and slander.

Addressing journalists at the Temple of Justice on Wednesday, May 13 shortly after visiting Dumoe in prison, Cllr. Gongloe, also a human rights advocate, said it also undermines the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is no history of the empty statement causing uproar in our country and posing threat to our government. This is an attempt on the part of the police and the National Security Agency (NSA) to intimidate people during this State of Emergency (SoE).”

Gongloe continued, “Look, they have made Dumoe a national hero because their actions would now be catalogued as a violation against human rights, of which President Weah is seriously against.”

According to the rights advocate, those actions can stop investors from coming to the country to invest, “because no investor wants to hear that national security is running after its own citizens for making free speech. That individual will not want to bring his money to that country.”

Gongloe said rights protection begins with the police, “their behavior makes people judge the country and so the police should stop behaving in this manner.”

He claimed that Dumoe’s post does not amount to any criminal offenses for which he should be arrested and detained by the police.

“There are no criminal offenses within the speech and that post is very much insignificant to the country, [which is currently] fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic that is killing people around the world. They should stop the arbitrary arrest of people because of free speech or what they say everybody has their rights to speak. If somebody says Liberians need AK-47 and another group can say we don’t need a gun, but we want rice, that is the beautify of free speech for people to freely disagree. That is the country we want for now,” Gongloe noted.

Gongloe said he is seriously disappointed when it comes to police arresting people for free speech. “Let the police now concentrate their fight against those criminal activities — particularly armed robbery — and to stop distracting us by going after people on Facebook by taking information and making it as a national issue for discussion under this State of Emergency and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Nobody should go to jail for free speech they made or wrote and so the police should stop intimidating people from expressing themselves. We need a unified front to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic as asked for by the President,” Gongloe emphasized.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Free speech in a democratic society should never advocate for AK-47s; weapons of mass destruction to be used against the government or people. In this case, the government is right to get concerned but I would caution the government to follow the judicial process to ensure the accused rights are protected. He deserves due process. Yes, the government took an oath to defend lives and properties; and it is very unfortunate that a journalist would advocate for violence without regard for what Liberia had already gone through. He deserves to be held accountable.

    • Mr Gongloe wants to emerge as another Quiwonkpa or another Jackson F. Doe under the guise of human rights advocacy.

      • If we should use the same yardstick for which Mr. Dumoe was arrested to judge you Mr. Zota, then you too, ought to be arrested for threatening Cllr. Gongloe’s life. Knowing that Jackson Doe and Quiwonkpa were murdered for their opposition to the then power that be, and suggesting that similar thing could happen to Cllr. Gongloe unless he keeps quiet, means you want him to be murdered similarly. As a matter of fact your threat is more direct than Mr. Dumoe’s, who simply observed that unless the current trend of national affairs in Liberia is reversed, “AK-47s” or “revolution” will be the only logical resort. As much as all of us who experienced the bitter pangs of our erstwhile civil war can tell, none of us want to ever witness a repeat of those days again. Ever! But it does not mean we should not speak of and against the ills of our society and advise against them just because we don’t ever want to resort to warfare in how we resolve those vices. We should therefore muster the courage to warn our leaders and all of us that that possibility is never farfetched, unless we adopt more just and equitable ways in conducting the affairs of our country. What could be illegal or unlawful about that?

        • Dempster Yallah aka Peter Gboyo, did I “hear you say” this: “Knowing that Jackson Doe and Quiwonkpa were murdered for their opposition to the then power that be”??????

          WHY LIE? Jackson F. Doe like Moses Duopu was killed between November and December 1990 WITHIN the Charles Taylorś NPFL controlled areas upon the orders of Charles Taylor.

          According to Taylor they were threat to his agenda of using the Mano and Gio people to achieve his Charles Taylorś agenda. Quiwonkpa was captured and killed on November 15, 1985 when their so called Patriotic Forces invaded Liberia on November 12, 1985.

          So, apologize for this intentional misrepresentation on your part: “Knowing that Jackson Doe and Quiwonkpa were murdered for their opposition to the then power that be”

      • George Zota, do not associate such patriotic and honorable men (Jackson F. Doe and Gen. Quiwonkpa) with a dull and lack of integrity Tiawen Gongloe who is on police, media, and court, records for stealing police letterhead to obstruct justice upon his been bribed, but was caught and publicly disgraced in his tracks by the then police director Muna Sieh in 2008!

        The dullness of that half-baked lawyer calling himself Tiawen Gongloe can be clearly seen here as he foolishly asserts that there are no limitations to free speech!

        It is only in small countries like Liberia that swines as Tiawen Gongloe may be seen as a lawyer. His displayed stupidity and unprofessional conclusions in this matter, as has been in several others, are proof that Tiawen Gongloe lacks integrity, and he is damn stupid!

  2. Oh well, Counselor Tiawon Gongloe is expressing an opinion, not a fact; did Weah’s KKK Act say any citizen can shout “fire!” in a crowded theatre? The Security Sector following best practice by ensuring there isn’t any danger to public safety. Apparently, Liberia’s political elites didn’t get why the UN, AU, and ECOWAS offices in Monrovia warned last year against “media messages that promote violence”.

    • Left with you Sylvester Moses, George Weah and his coterie of misfits are the administrators Liberia ever needed. Anointed? Perhaps you no longer harbor any shred of conscience in that atrophied cranium resting on your neck. Shame on you!

      • Peter Gboyo aka Dempster Yallah, you are a chronic opportunist! You are accusing someone that “Left with them, George Weah and his coterie of misfits are the administrators Liberia ever needed.”

        But when Ellen Johnson was in charge of the national cake, such as you are NOW accusing others to be, was your conviction.

        However, today that she Ellen is no more in power, you want her son to rot in jail or she Ellen lives the rest of her life in such agony. Probe your heart! Probe your concience, Dempster Yallah aka Peter Gboyo.

  3. Counselor Gongloe does not sincerely believe that free speech has no limit; there are limits even in the most democratic countries. The danger is where respected people attempt to mix politics and law. These two have different yardsticks.

  4. To those who justified the arrest of Mr. Dumoe because of the “word” AK-47 should look around themselves in Liberia today, there are AK-47 everywhere in the hands of police and law enforcement apparatus. Is it not the same AK-47 used against Liberians in our civil conflict that took millions of lives away? If the “word” AK-47 will remind people of our darker days or civil war, then what about having to see it everyday in the hands of securities apparatus in Liberia? What are the sarcological effect on Liberians mind for seeing the AK-47, compared to hearing the word AK-47? I think Liberians get more traumatized for having to see the AK-47 than just hearing the word.

    When Mayor Jefferson Kojee said, quote: “we will meet in flesh and blood” unquote: or when the so called General Powell said, quote: “we need to formed the kru defence force” unquote: to protect president George Weah, where were the securities apparatus then to analyzed theses powerful words of incitements made by these 2 young gentlemen? Or their actions did not constitute an arrest because of their affiliations. Look no one is calling for violence or another civil war in Liberia but the police need to stop this type of operations.

    They can not governed or rule Liberia with iron fist because, others have tried and they failed. Just supposed, if Mr. Domue had said, quote:”we will say no to the AK-47 and request for bag of rice so our government officials can take us serious” unquote. What could have be the reaction of the administration to such a statement?

  5. This case brings to mind the classic event that occurred in California in the 80’s, when the renowned singer, Ozzy Osbourne, of the Black Sabbath Band was taken to court by two families on grounds that the phrase in the song, “Suicide Solution” produced subliminal messages, and it impelled their sons to commit suicide. Unfortunately for the families, the judges expunged the lawsuits on premises that the evidence produced by the plaintiffs’ lawyers was frivolous and could not be proven.

    Excerpts from the court’s deliberations revealed, the challenge before the plaintiffs’ lawyers was to prove how the use of the phrase, “Suicide Solution” could influence people to commit such a heinous crime. The plaintiffs’ arguments, which were centered on such issues like proximate cause, foreseeable result, or subliminal messages proved to be too specious to admit in court.

    On the other hand, in Mr. Osbourne’s counterargument, his lawyers told the court that his alluding to suicide solution in the lyrics was in fact meant to warn people that alcoholism is a dangerous behavior, and it would kill a person, but, however, his words were taken out of context.

    So, my question to Solicitor General Cephus is how would he have won this case against Mr. Dumoe with only the mention of subliminal messages as proof? Are there any cases in Liberia that have set the precedent for subliminal messaging to be admissible as evidence in court because someone or a group has committed wide-scale violence simply based on the hidden motive from another person’s utterances?

  6. But what has happened to YOU Peter Gboyo aka Dempster Yallah?

    Since YOU got unmasked and have been reported to your former paymaster EJS whom you wickedly prefer she spends the rest of her life in bewilderment, pain, hurt, and grief, because YOU are no more on her payroll, YOU have gone undergone.

    Boy, you are evil! What do you have in that chest of yours? I bet it is A STONE!

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