—As CSO Platform wants Gov’t launch probe
The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia has expressed deep concerns over complaints of threats to its Secretary-General, Adama K. Dempster. Mr. Dempster and Musa Hassan Bility of the Global Justice Research Project had earlier complained about receiving threats from some ranking security officials in the circle of the government.
At a news conference Congo Town, the human rights advocacy group said threats against the rights defenders in Liberia are creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the country’s human rights community, while at the same time reminding the government of its constitutional and statutory obligations to protect and promote the rights of all, including rights advocates residing within territorial confines of Liberia.
In a statement read by a member of the Technical Committee and Board of Directors, Danieletta F. Sleyon, the consortium recounted how the work of human rights defenders in the country continues to impact governance through calls for accountability and justice for past crimes and prosecution of those involved in other national crimes.
“We call on the government to renew and uphold its commitment to protecting human rights defenders. This must include the safeguard of the space for human rights defenders to participate in discussions on human rights at national, regional and international fora,” said Ms. Sleyon.
According to her, the human rights community will not take lightly these threats against its Secretary-General and others but will persist on calling on the government to fully investigate to make public the report to ensure commitment in the protection of human rights defenders and others in Liberia.
The UN declaration on human rights defenders calls for the protection of human rights defenders in the context of their work.
Ms. Sleyon on behalf of the group said, “We are demanding a probe into recent threats directed to key human rights defenders in Liberia including our Secretary-General Adama K. Dempster.”
The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform is a network of 40 national human rights institutions in Liberia.
Several human rights organizations use this platform to remind the Liberian government of key provisions of Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders including seeking protection and realization of human rights at national and international levels, developing and discussing new human rights ideas and principles, as well as advocating their acceptance among others.
“The human rights community is using this medium to notify the international community and diplomatic missions accredited near Monrovia of the seemingly toxic human rights environment currently existing in Liberia; especially threats against its Secretary-General Adama Dempster”.
Rev. Francis Kollie, Director of the Prison Fellowship Liberia and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform, added that they have registered the complaint before the human rights authority at the Ministry of Justice.
“These threats should not be considered only against human rights defenders, but against the Liberian people,” he said.
While Dempster is overwhelmed by fear due to the alleged threat; he is, however, confident that no amount of threats will force him and the others to abandon their rights campaign.
“We came out of civil wars in which atrocities were committed. We did not write the TRC report. Government constituted the TRC to document the atrocities committed and we are simply following up on the TRC recommendations,” Dempster said
International human rights organizations recently highlighted what they termed as “Credible threats” against key human rights defenders in Liberia, and subsequently reminded the Liberian government of its obligation to protect all including human rights defenders.