-Special committee set up to probe torture allegations
Members of the House of Representatives have rescinded (withdrawn, canceled) their decision to maintain their contempt charge against the management of Sime Darby and have voted to constitute an 8-man special committee to investigate torture allegations made against the company.
The special committee, chaired and co-chaired by Rep. Tibelrosa S. Tarponweh of Margibi County and Rustonlyne Dennis from Montserrado County, respectively, will also be responsible to review the concession which was ratified by the Legislature in July 2009.
Members are Rep. Johnson Gwaikolo, Rep. Matthew Zayzay, Rep. Beyan Howard, Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah, Rep. Edwin M. Snowe and Rep. Mambu Sonii. The committee is to report in one week.
Mr. David Parker, Country Manager of Sime Darby, formally apologized to the House for providing fake testimony on torture allegations last Thursday, April 19, but said Sime Darby does not condone mistreatment of any human being.
It may be recalled that last Thursday, in a unanimous accord, members of the House of Representatives, including Speaker Bhofal Chambers, publicly accused the management of Sime Darby Plantation-Liberia of ‘obstructing their work’ with their conflicting testimonies, which are subject to punishment in accordance with Chapter 4 of the House’s Rules and Procedures.
However, the apology by Mr. Parker apparently softened the ire of the lawmakers.
Some members of the Sime Darby management team, who were at yesterday’s hearing, included Mr. Sequavan Guventen, head of sales/marketing; Mr. Ali Kamal, head of operations; Mr. Duoda V. Metzger, head of human resources, as well as Atty. Ebenezer Z. Gibson of the Dean & Associates Law Office.
Meanwhile, according to the House’s contempt charge, Sime Darby officials could have been fined and jailed for their contempt against the lawmakers.
According to Chapter 4 of the Rules and Order, “Contempt of the legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct or impede the legislative function or which obstruct or impede members or officers of the legislature in the discharge of their legislative duties, is punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,0000) and/or imprisonment in a common jail for not more than one month of the duration of the current session of the House, after a hearing consistent with due process of law. Decisions rendered from contempt charges are not applicable.”