INCHR Conerned over Human Rights Abuse at GT Bank

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Authorities at the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) in Monrovia have raised concern over the “gruesome and horrid assault” allegedly meted out against a peaceful Liberian citizen, Edward Freeman, who is an employee of the Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank), reportedly by the bank’s managing director, Ayodeji Bejide.

In a statement INCHR issued on Wednesday, August 29, the Commission highlighted that the alleged shocking physical assault on an individual has the propensity to undermine fundamental human rights as well as the rights of Mr. Freeman.

The Commission also informed that the act reportedly exhibited by Bejide is against transnational corporations, corporate entities as well as business enterprises’ responsibilities to protect the rights of its employees, ensuring remedies for human rights violations by corporate entities in line with the United Nations Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework of 2008. Also, the United Guiding Principles on Human Rights of 2011 calls on all business and corporate entities to protect human rights, and ensure redress for infringements and violations against employees as well as in its business corporate chain.

Therefore, in view of international guiding principles, the INCHR wants GT Bank’s Corporate Boards to not only ensure compliance and respect for human rights, but to ensure punishment, as a must, for corporate executives and their associates, or anyone acting on the orders of corporate executives for human rights violations.

The Commission has therefore called for immediate redress in this particular case at the bank.

At the same time, the INCHR has expressed gratitude to officers of the Liberia National Police for their prompt action; the Ministry of Labor for not being silent on this matter; the Central Bank of Liberia and the Board of GTBank for calling for a speedy investigation and immediate punitive action against Bejide.

The Commission also wants to especially extol and hail Mr. Freeman, who refused to be intimidated into cowardice and timidity even at the loss of job by recording and exposing this act of hostility against him.

“We call on all employees of various corporate institutions to emulate the bravery of Mr. Freeman and peacefully challenge and expose acts of aggression, whether verbal or physical, against them and pursue legal redress,” the release said.

The INCHR is therefore encouraging state institutions to ensure speedy dispensation of justice for Mr. Freeman, a victim of corporate brutality, “as we commit to follow this case to its logical termination.”

Alleged abuses of human rights of employees at workplaces seem to be on the increase in the country, with only a few of such incidents being reported. Many employers now withhold employees’ salaries, claiming that they do not have enough money to pay employees because of the poor state of the economy, while intimidating employees in an effort to turn them into submissive laborers. And while many employees would like to report such cases, there seems to be a lack of meaningful and consistent effort by the Ministry of Justice and other private and government agencies to ensure the rights of employees are not abused.

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