Independence Day Orator Joins Call for Death Penalty for Rapists

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Rev. Dr. Simeon L. Dunbar

Does the crime of rape warrant the death penalty? If not, then given the alarming rate of reported rape cases in Liberia, what will it take to stop the crime? If so, is Liberia even ready to reintroduce the death penalty as a means of addressing the alarming rate of rape against women and girls across the country? Extreme, no doubt. But there may be a slow but sure consensus brewing, so far with two individuals of national repute — one a soldier and the other a preacher — having boldly declared their support for the death penalty for the crime of rape.

Rev. Dr. Simeon L. Dunbar, National Orator of this Year’s Independence Day celebration, has joined Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, III, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), to reintroduce death penalty for rapists as a means of drastically reducing the harmful act against women and girls across Liberia.

Gen. Johnson at an event on sexual and gender-based violence held in Monrovia on the 11th of July, 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 said 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.”

GBV Summary Report March – June 2020 (Courtesy: Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Republic of Liberia)

Barely a fortnight after Gen. Johnson had voiced an identical opinion, Rev. Dunbar used his platform as National Independence Day Orator, in the presence of President George M. Weah, the 54th legislature, government ministers and Liberia’s international partners to call for the death penalty to be reintroduced for rapists.

Rev. Dunbar is a renowned preacher of one of the largest churches in Liberia.

Speaking under the Theme: “Standing Together in a Time of Pandemic,” Rev Dunbar said “Rape perpetrated by inhumane men who claim to be citizens of this God-fearing nation. IT IS SAD AND IT NEEDS TO STOP. If that means introducing the death penalty on these evil perpetrators, so let it be.”

Rev. Dunbar said, “it is beyond sickening that while we are battling COVID-19, we have to deal with reoccurring cases of rape of teenagers and babies who have not even learned to talk.”

He said citizens are still at war with far greater pandemics than COVID-19, adding that the people cannot and will not stand together to win any battle in a society that condones injustice, rampant corruption, disobedience or non-adherence for the rule of law, nepotism and tribalism, sexual violence and gender-based violence, lack of genuine reconciliation, lack of patriotism, lack of accountability, lack of integrity and with no fear of God; for God hates these vices.

He called on the security sector to adhere to the rules that govern this land and not abuse them.

According to data from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, there were 182 cases of rape reported in January 2019, as compared to January 2020, when 172 rape cases were reported. In February 2020, there were 174 rape cases as compared to the same month in 2019, which recorded 169 cases of rape.  In March 2020, there were 160 rape cases reported compared to the same month in 2019, which recorded 154 cases of rape.

The Gender Ministry data suggests that between 2019 and 2020 there was very little disparity between the the number of rape cases reported each moth during the first quarter of either year. And for a small population like Liberia, this means that within the first quarter of any given year, on average, more than five hundred women fall prey to rape, counting only the reported cases.

Reported rape cases from the first quarter of 2019 and 2020. (Courtesy: Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Republic of Liberia)

However, the analysis also says “all the 15 counties have not reported, but this trend analysis on reported rape has shown that February and March 2020 reported higher cases of rape as compared to the same period 2019.”

Brenda B. Moore, Founder and Executive Director of the Kids Education Engagement Program, said she supports the death penalty for rape if the act resulted in death but if not, the perpetrators should serve time in prison.

“For me, I do not agree with the death penalty if the act did not result in death. If it resulted in the death of a person, I do believe that [there should be] life for life,” she said in a telephone interview.

Moore, a survivor of sexual violence and an advocate against the crime, is calling for more courts across Liberia to be able to try those rape cases that have been reported and the implementation of those laws to ensure perpetrators face the full weight of the law.

“I want to see a country where all system are strengthened,” she explained, “that when you are accused of rape, you will have your days in court and, when convicted, you go to jail for ten years, which means your liberty will be seized, not to have cases at police stations and still straggling to go to court.”

The Secretary-General of the Civil Society Human Rights Platform, Adama K. Dempster, has said while it is true they are concerned about the high wave of reported rape cases and further molestations of women and girls, they are not in support of death penalty for those that sexually abuse women.

Dempster said given the nature of the role of the human rights community, they are working to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

He recounted that on 22 July 2008, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, assented to a bill that amended the 1976 Penal Code by providing that death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole shall be imposed on an offender who, during the commission of the crimes of terrorism or hijacking or armed robbery, causes the death of his victim.

Dempster said the law also provided that a person convicted of one of the above offenses and who raped or attempted to rape his victim or who caused partial or permanent disability to his victim shall be sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of release at the age of 90 years old.

“The death penalty was introduced for the above offenses despite of the fact that Liberia ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, on 16 September 2005, which specifically obliges States Parties to ‘take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within’ their jurisdictions,” he said.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I am 101% against capital punishment. My opposition rests on the premise that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. Capital punishment has not fully worked in any civilized country. For sure, it will not solve the problem of excessive rape in Liberia.

    The second reason why capital punishment is unworkable is that “some women” in this particular case are haters and downright liars. Some women! A woman who hates a guy or who didn’t get a gift such as a huge sum of money she was promised, can lie to her teeth and claim that she’s been raped. I know I am being hypothetical, but such a scenario is plausible.

    Third, a very few people may not know this, but a good majority of Liberians are aware of the fact that Liberia is kind of corrupt. That’s not to say that Liberia is the only country on the face of the earth that’s corrupt. Oh my God no! And of course, we’ve got a handsome number of good, fair-minded Liberians too. But the greater point I want to make is that a man can be framed. If a poor guy is framed and he has no proper defense lawyers, the framed man can be hanged to die. When life goes, it cannot be brought back. In America, a lot of black men were put to death because their white female accusers lied to their teeth about being raped. We don’t need that kind of bullcrap in Liberia.

    Do I support a harsh punishment for rapists? Oh yes I do! If it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a rape has occurred, the prosecutorial charges should be brought into play immediately. That’s how I feel.

    Question:
    Is there any crime that’s acceptable to God? So what about some high class government officials who steal the country’s money for their selfish interests? Should government officials who have been found to have stolen money be hanged to die? Why not?

    It doesn’t matter what an archbishop or a military man says about rape. Some God people steal and do sex outside of their homes discreetly. Should such men or women predators be taken to the gallows?

    Capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. Don’t joke yourself!

  2. What is very importantly interesting is welcoming of a civilian, but not only a civilian but one from the class of the religious civil society and one from the general public civil society inviting the opinion of a soldier, but not only a common soldier’s opinion is welcome, but that of the opinions of the Army Chief of Staff into the discussions of civil social justice under a civilian government. After what the nation has been through with its army and its military rule. And so if the civilian authorities can not handled the rape situations in the country, the military option of how rapists should be handled is the best option for the country ? It was this kind of gradual thinking that the best option to a civilian authorities was a military option or takeover to stop rampant corruption, bad governance, minority leadership, violence against women and children as the so-called solution to the country’s political system. But no sooner that the military option was experienced in comparison to the civilian authorities, the ills of society multiplied in all sectors. It is not surprising to hear a ranking member of the religious order welcoming the opinions of the military into the social justice system of the country. It is not surprising because history does not repeat itself in that country, but it is the citizens that loved to repeat history at any cost. Just the other day the Orator got praised for such a beautiful speech, the next day he has outgrown his importance. And the show must go on in any form. As long as he makes the news. Wondering what will be the opinion of the church, should the death penalty failed to stop the level of rapes by used of the military options ? As was hoped for in the past ? Carry on, the church will say, until rape is eradicated from the face of Liberia. The military option is slowly taking root in the mindsets of the country’s gatekeepers of social peace in society. One can not believe what comes out of the mouths of the churches these days. One should not look any further to see the conditions and the state of confusion in that country about why God has chosen to Ordained the President and the Bishops, the Preacher for his purpose. For to them , God has given the sword in their hands as His wrath to pour on the nation. Unless your laws be your laws , this too will come to pass. Romans something, something says so. It is in there. The Man Of God calling upon the opinions of the military or soldier to support his opinions as evidence of what he thinks and believes in. But God is missing in that picture. Something is wrong.

  3. I get sick to the stomach when I hear that even pastors, legislatures and other government officials are involved. Most of these individuals are religious.

    My suggestion is that the religious institutions should lead the fight against this moral challenge in the society. Make it part of the preaching every Sunday for the next one year. Do this in churches, mosques, radio, TV etc. With sincerity, God will change heart, that is if they still have hearts.

  4. A Luring Speech To Promote Medieval Mentality.

    Not only I m against Capital Punishment, but I m also against putting anyone to death with out proper investigation and proof. Mr. Mamadee L Dunbar aka Rev. Simeon L. Dunbar, your assertion is very wrong. Not only is it wrong, but also diabolic.

    Liberia, like any third country, is not equip with the science and technology to actually proof beyond any doubt of DNA evidence to hold anyone accountable. I m not saying if an individual is caught in the act, should not be punished. Even in the great USA, a court cannot just put a culprit to death by simple accusation. There are cases of “rapes” that innocent men have been set free after languishing behind bars of been accused as a rapist in the great USA. DNA evidence surface, and they were set free. Liberia is light years away from having such technology. Besides, capital punishment is a medieval mentality.

    You are given women weapons to be used at the disadvantages of their unlawful lovers or husbands. The weapon which will decide if an unlawful lover or cheating husband should be put to death, if the female partner cries HE RAPED ME, whether lie or true.

    A “reverend”, should not be the one who will advocate for capital punishment. You are holding a Christian Clergy position which need to teach compassion, not mosaic law. You must hold the citadel of compassion, and forgiveness, not the other way around.

    Mamadee Dunbar, aka Rev. Simeon L. Dunbar, if you ever did Civics lesson in Liberia, please do not intertwine the soldier with a civil justice case. Maybe you need a little light to be thrown on this matter for clarity. Please tell your congregation on Sunday to have compassion. Your view on social justice is very apocalyptic. A soldier cannot enforce social justice, Sir.

    Thanks, Mamadu Bah (N/P), Adelaide, Australia

  5. Many supporters of capital punishment are sometimes aware that it is not an absolute cure for the commission of felonious crimes. However, when they expressed their support for it, they speak in terms of correlation and not causality.

    What do I mean about this? Correlation tends to explain an indirect relationship while causality states a direct cause and effect relationship for an event taking place. For example: One can make the argument when Summer comes in, the crime rates among the youth in America go up; now, can one draw the conclusion that Summer is the direct cause of the escalation of crimes among the youths during this time of the year? No, many educational statistics revealed the commission of crimes during this time of the year is high among school-age teenagers because of school closures. That’s when many youths who are not pre-occupied with productive and other extra-curricular activities get in trouble as the result of them using their out of school time to loaf and engage in mischievousness. The climatic change is not the direct cause of the increase of those acts. It only correlates or corresponds to the event as it occurs during this time of the year.

    So, the brief example similarly resembles the argument as it bogs down to government’s effort in deterring the commission of rape. One camp in this argument says capital punishment is not the panacea for committing rape and for understandable reasons, unscrupulous people may make-up dangerous lies to have others falsely indicted. Also, they strongly believe the absence of capital punishment is not the cause of rape and it cannot curtail it.

    Yes, it is to determine the actual causes of rape one must consider several factors which are beyond the scope of these brief comments, and they cover but not limited to such topics like the causes of deviant behaviors, psycho-social factors, socio-economic factors, family upbringing, moral and religious background, and so forth.

    Nevertheless, many studies done by experts around the world have revealed that even though capital punishment may not be the cure-all for this scourge, but they have discovered in many instances, a correlation did exist between the introductions of capital punishment and how it drastically deterred many would be potential criminals and led to very low rates in the commission of heinous crimes. The impetus behind the deterrence has been one of man’s most dreadful fears, which is the fear of death. And so when a government begins to instill in people they will face the ultimate punishment of death for committing capital offenses, they begin to pay heed.

    Drastic ailments call for drastic medication. Rape cases have become prevalent in the country, and therefore government should introduce the death penalty if the victim dies as a result of the act or a prolonged imprisonment if the victim survives after the act, but is still suffering from its emotional and psychologically scars.

  6. The Weaponization of RAPE

    Supposed others are using RAPE accusations as a weapons to eliminate others. Knowing that the word RAPE is punishable by death, people may use it as a weapon! Whether true or lie.
    Where do you stand on that?

  7. Capital punishment won’t be a solution for rape when it hasn’t deterred heinous murders in more highly-protected democracies. Rape was a weapon of war during our civil war, therefore, its spike fits with experiences in other postwar countries. A holistic approach that integrates socioeconomic measures (workforce development, jobs, etc.for marriageable idle young adults) and effective policing methods stand a better chance of reducing the incidence.

    Truth be told, a thorough probe will reveal that current statistics on rape could be just a tip of the iceberg. It is one of the most under-reported of crimes, because of shame, scandal, and stigma for victims; not to talk of a byproduct that drives sexual diseases including aids. With these complexities surrounding the crime, it’s dismaying that a simplistic solution has been broached. More so, by speakers who should’ve known better to factor in human rights concerns and backlash.

    I won’t be surprised when a businessman suggests death by firing squad for armed robbery. The Justice Minister as Chairman of our Security Sector should’ve publicly told the Army Chief of Staff that rape was a law enforcement responsibility, not military, after the latter’s unguided statement. We need vigilant public awareness about rape; we need resources to reduce it; we don’t need hysterical inputs that will create more problems for our people and country.

  8. In America, the word rape is defined differently. Example, a Midwestern lady claimed to have been raped by her husband. After the incident (which she may have enjoyed), law enforcement was called. The poor husband was handcuffed, taken to the police station and locked up. Charges were pressed against her entrenched husband and of course, the courts got involved. Cameras are allowed in the courtrooms of America, there’s hardly anything that’s hidden from public view. In the courtroom, the judge asked the plaintiff (the lady) to state under oath how this rape occurred. The plaintiff responded by saying “I told him I was not interested in sex. He sex me anyway”. The judge pressed on, “did your husband conquer you by the use of brute force”? She replied, No, your honor. I was tired. I told the guy that I wasn’t in the mood….he talked me into it”.

    That’s it. If you as a gentleman talk your girlfriend or wife into changing her mind, and you do it, you’ve just committed a rape. That’s the definition of rape according to some women.

    All in all, I will say this…. no one should be hanged to die because of rape in Liberia. We’re not barbarians. The Reverend who was mentioned as being supportive of capital punishment, should be ashamed of himself. It is written….”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. I hope the Reverend is not delusional.

  9. So, wait oo Mr. Hney, was the man tried and found guilty of rape because he succeeded in convincing his wife to have sex with her?

    I am keenly interested in knowing how the trial was conducted and the outcome of it.

    Thank you

  10. Mamadu S. Bah

    Thanks. I thought you raised some very good points and asked a very good question Mr. Bah. My observation on the “weaponization of rape” as you intelligibly coined the phrase” is that the use of DNA by tapping some specimens from the victim’s or the perpetrator’s body and personal belongings could help solve some of the mysteries behind the commission of many of these serious crimes.

    Is DNA testing absolutely accurate? A lot of findings and research sources have revealed that despite the high accuracy rates of DNA particularly in determining a child’s paternity and one’s ancestry, some controversies involving highly profiled individuals and issues of misidentification have placed DNA testing under public scrutiny in recent years. Despite these minor flaws, DNA testing has however stood the test of time, and it is still widely used today by many experts who are versed in their specialties and other areas of studies around the world.

    There’s a growing convergence of opinions and it points to one common theme. The theme is the national average of rape cases in Liberia is alarmingly high and therefore government needs to intervene to stop the prevalence of this bane.

    In my opinion, the introduction of the death penalty and prolonged imprisonment will help to curtail this blight.

  11. Comrade Kimba,
    Yes, the judge ruled. The verdict…. guilty! In other words, the gentleman was found to have raped his own wife.

    The law tends to support women in rape cases in all societies. Just think about this…..why should a judge agree with a woman who claims rape by her husband? If I were the judge, I would have recommended something else….. counseling for the couple, but especially for the lady who may have had an emotional problem.

    (Sorry folks. I am a mild-mannered person, but I get hot sometimes.)

    Don’t be surprised to hear this….in America (maybe it happens in Liberia and elsewhere) sometimes, men get raped by women. It’s funny, but it’s the truth and nothing but the truth.

    For instance, in the state of Washington (not the District of Columbia), a 14-year boy was repeatedly raped by his 28-year old school teacher until she got pregnant. Isn’t that shameful, comrade Kimba? The harshest punishment the young man’s teacher received was a verbal condemnation by the media and the courts. Example, the lady was labeled as a child predator! Is that fair?

    My bottom line:
    The use of the words “death penalty” will scare would-be rapists in Liberia. But only temporarily! I don’t care how anyone spins it,….. the re-introduction of capital punishment in Liberia will not eliminate rape in Liberia.

  12. Mr. Hney

    wow. Please remind me to bring my wife with me the day I do decide to go and reside in America. But then again, i will just be wasting my time because she has said that she will leave her aging parents and go to live anywhere else as long as they are alive. Waz up with Cape Palmas women and their parents business?. My childhood friend was lucky to land a teaching job at a university in Kenya but his wife, who is from cape palmas like my wife us, refused to leave Liberia to go with him because of her parents also. Not only that, but she forbidded her husband from leaving.

    The lady who “raped” the minor child should have been place behind bars, plain and simple.

  13. Comrade Kimba,
    First of all, please say hello to your loving wife who happens to be a Marylander. I am a Marylander. I am proud of it, I break no bones! Kimba, please take care of your Maryland county wife. By doing so, she will cook good palm butter for you at least two times every week, if you desire. Don’t worry comrade Kimba. When you plan to come to the US, give me a thumps-up. Just say, “ready to go”. I will lecture my Cape Palmas daughter in order for her to see the bigger picture. She will listen to me.

    Kimba, I haven’t eaten palm butter this year. But I was in Liberia last year from July to October. During that time, I ate good palm butter. Last night, I ate from Bibibop, a South Korean eatery. My plate contained steak (cut up in small marble-size pieces) chopped oven-roasted potatoes, a spoon of white rice, corn and yum-yum sauce. When you get here, let me know!

    Kimba, I think it is fair to say that I grew up in the US. I have seen a lot, read a lot and observed a whole lot. The story I told is accurate. In fact, it happens all the time. Older women (of course not all of them are predators), do that in order to satisfy themselves sexually. Women are more aggressive here than in Liberia. So in direct response to your question, the Seattle, Washington lady-teacher got pregnant. Because of the young guy’s age, she was kept away from him for a while. But, according to sources, the two of them became a couple…..they got married.

    Download this sad story and read:

    Celia vs. the State of Missouri in 1855.

    Not just you, any reader of the Daily Observer. Since the main topic of the article we are responding to is about rape and the death penalty in Liberia, I want you and all enquiring minds to see how some white powerful men in America raped black women during slavery and got away with it. It’s a sad story.

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