Authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have begun investigating several officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) that were accused of brutalizing marketers who protested on Thursday against tax increase on imported goods, police spokesman Sam Collins said.
Two protesters were seriously wounded during the incident, an eyewitness account said.
The marketers were protesting against what they described as “rapid increment on taxes levied on imported goods”; a situation they said has caused prices to skyrocket on the local market especially during the festive season.
Thursday’s protest brought business activities at the commercial district of Waterside and Bushrod Island in Monrovia to a halt.
Collins’ statement was contained in a remark he made when he served as one of the facilitators at a two–day seminar on “Media Coverage of Justice and Security Institutions.”
The seminar brought together journalists that are assigned to cover security and justice as well as the directors of public affairs of law enforcement agencies.
It was organized by Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LNLEA).
Collins claimed that the Police Director, Gregory Coleman, was not aware of any brutality the officers had meted against any of the protesters. He, however, said Director Coleman was taking the report ‘very serious’ to probe if police officers were allegedly involved.
“We sent the officers there to maintain law and order and not to manhandle any of the protesters,” Collins said, adding, “Our Director has launched a probe into the matter, and if anyone of the police is found culpable, that officer will be dealt with under the police code of conduct,” Collins maintained.
Meanwhile, Collins said the new police plan is focus 70 percent of its duties on community services, while the remaining 30 percent will be used on force.
“This is the new strategy that we have introduced to build trust between the community and the police. The intent is for the community to help the police in the discharge of its duty to protect lives and properties,” Collins told the gathering.