Human rights lawyer Attorney Kofi Woods has condemned the Nov. 17 election violence and wants a comprehensive investigation into the incident involving the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Executive Protection Services (EPS) on Sunday, November 18, 2018.
In a statement issued in Monrovia, he said all named perpetrators must be brought to justice and appealed to all religious, civil and political organizations to ensure redress for the victims of such violence and campaign for the necessary punitive measures and sanctions against individuals and organizations who continue to engage in violence in our country, thereby undermining our peace.
Attorney Woods also called on the National Legislature to conduct an open session on these events and act to secure and protect the country’s fledgling democracy and also called on international and regional organizations to take note of these developments and act to sanction individuals and organizations that seek to undermine the democratic gains made by our country.
He said where the Liberian Government fails to act properly, individuals are encouraged to take advantage of other avenues including the ECOWAS Court to ensure that the government’s duty under international and domestic laws is adhered to.
Attorney Woods said further that any investigation must consider the violation of the Code of Conduct for public officials and the extent to which it has been violated.
In reference to past elections violence, he said: “I was a member of the Cabinet on November 7, 2011, when the headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change, then an opposition political party, was a scene of violence and unwarranted bloodshed.”
He said despite his position in government at the time and holding true to his values as a human rights advocate, “I condemned the government’s actions, the senseless tragedy, and bloodletting; and declared the act a bad omen for our democracy.
“I called for a full investigation of the incident, emphasized the need for accountability, and demanded the reopening of radio stations that were summarily closed in the aftermath of the incident. An independent Committee was later appointed, and some of its recommendations implemented.”
Attorney Woods said, “Today, in the wake of the recent election-related violence in District#13, I am painfully reminded of that November 7, 2011 incident and concerned that bloody political contests searing our conscience and decency might become the new norm.”
Woods expressed strong condemnation on the Saturday, November 17, 2018, act of lawlessness and called on the government to conduct a comprehensive investigation and ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice.
“There must be no sacred cows,” he stated. He added that the violent incident over the weekend casts a cloud over the elections in District #13, undermining faith that the process and its outcome would be free, fair and transparent. It also puts a dent in the gains made over the years in consolidating our nascent democracy.”
“This is an onslaught on human rights and a threat to peace and stability. However, it is convincingly reinforcing the case for accountability in Liberia. The indifference and disdain for human dignity persist due to the level of impunity indulged by our government and people,” Woods said.
He said Liberians have suffered over the years and would spare no price to resist attempts to intimidate, harass and impose inhumane treatment against those whose only crime is to freely associate and participate in a democratic competition and fulfill the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
Attorney Woods, Legal consultant and founder of the Liberia Law Society, said: “We have had two dark Novembers where blood has been shed and people killed for exercising their rights and civic duties. With victims of the previous incident now governors of the state, a repeat of this act of violence is unconscionable and unacceptable. Liberians look forward to a redemption of history and a conscious effort by the current leadership of this country to demonstrate its commitment to the tenets of democracy and peace. The government must realize that it is the agent responsible to protect all Liberians, not just some Liberians.”
It may be recalled that last week Saturday, during the final campaigns for District #13 by-elections, supporters of UP candidate and those of CDC candidate engaged in violence that caused extensive damage to several people, while on Sunday, Nov. 18, there was a report of a fracas between an EPS officer and that of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.