‘Liberia Doesn’t Need Regime Security’

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Participants posed at Thursday's gathering.

-Says INCHR Commissioner Colley

The Acting chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Bartholomew B. Colley, said Liberia doesn’t need a regime security but a professional security that is committed to protecting the state and its citizens.

Colley made the statement on Thursday, September 6, in Monrovia during the validation of the baseline study report for the structural provision of human rights education to authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP).

“We need to organize ourselves. We don’t want a regime security. You can’t have a regime, but professional, security in Liberia, like any other country; people who have commitment, are patriotic to their country, and are professional in their areas,” Mr. Colley said.

To achieve this, he said, Liberia needs security apparatuses that are well taken care of, and not just wearing the uniforms and moving around the country.

“Security needs to be well taken care of, but if you violate anyone’s rights, we will put the friendship aside and comer after you. We will not shut our mouths, and must remain clear here,” he said.

According to Mr. Colley, the Commission wants to see a society that is safe for everyone and conscious of the existence of human rights as seen in other parts of the world. We want to get back to our people through various platforms, because human rights is everyone’s business, he added.

“Promotion of human rights must be thought of as education for both the rights holders and those who provide it,” he said.

He said that the INCHR is charged with the responsibility to protect any human rights-related issue across the country, in spite of the many challenges faced by the Commission.

INCHR executive director, Herron S. Gbidi, said the police play a pivotal role in protecting human rights and, as such, government and partners must fully support the officers.

“Now if the police have such huge responsibilities, we must be concerned how they deliver their services in the absence of support. We think that the police are the front-liners in the protection of human rights,” Mr. Gbidi said.

According to him, the Constitution also calls on the government to promote and protect human rights, a position or mandate that must not be taken lightly by anyone.

“When someone beats on your child, you will first run to the police, which means that they are protecting your human rights, and their function is very huge,” he said.

The police, he said, is a natural partner to human rights advocacy, “and so we must realize that we will not be able to do our work in the absence of them.

According to Gbidi, “the law says we should be able to protect human rights across the country, but we don’t have such capacity to effectively do our work.”

He added, “We want to ensure that we position ourselves to be on the preventive side of violation. In order to be proactive, we have to provide education for all our stakeholders, especially those who have the duty to protect the citizenry.

“We rights holders must also know our rights. We have a huge task, if we will want to engage into human rights protection or prevention. We are going to be operating through formal institutions, including schools, military academies, to be able to channel human rights education,” he said.

He added that the Commission has to be able to provide human rights education at the Liberia National Police Academy in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s provide incentives – like good pay and other benefits – to attract a talent pool of law enforcement recruits who will be trained to easily learn and know their powers with or without a warrant of arrest, basic investigative evidentiary procedures, and working knowledge of the constitution to mitigate incidents of egregious policing-driven human rights violations, for example, police brutality of the deadly force variety common in parts of the US.

    That said, what INCHR’s Mr. Colley derisively calls ”regime security” could be perceived as referencing the politicization of Public Safety and Homeland Security institutions, which pervades the continent as a logical response to post-colonial rash of coups, assassinations, and destabilizations. Although the result is a high turnover of supervisory officers leading to the loss of experience professionals, the fact that a brand new “regime” seems besieged by partisan-motivated rabble-rousing cum incitements from few media outlets and civil society institutions would make it want to prioritize security of the state by protecting its democratically-elected leadership. Frankly, nothing wrong with such projection in a political environment where the safety or protection of the leaders of the ruling party is, more often than not, inseparable from that of the state.

  2. I am fully in support of the idea expressed by the Chairperson of the INCHR. A professional security force is one that have internal policies and procedures that govern the behavior of securities personnel in the conduct of their duties that are in line with protecting the rights of the citizenry.

    In light of the recent incident reported of altercation between a Cabinet Minister (Fahngon and a member of the House, (Rep Snowe) that stems from the arrest by police officers on the order of the Minister of a club patron, Mattadi, who took pictures or video recordings of the Minister, Fahngon, in the club, one can see how “regime security” was clearly demonstrated here. The police officers who arrived at the scene felt they had an obligation to take orders from a cabinet minister against a citizen with no regard to due process of law, in a clear violation of both an abuse of office by the Minister and a violation of Mattaldi’s civil rights by the officers.

    A professional police force would never arrest a citizen who is not posing a physical threat to another person simply on the order of a public official with no judicial authority. A viable professional security force would have areas of concentrations that have special units assigned to protect the appropriate public officials from violence, while the regular forces that are responsible for protecting the genera welfare of the general population in the day to day social interaction to ensure individuals are free to live peaceably with one another. This would take into consideration developing an understanding of the securities force own internal policies and procedures that must be developed to fall within the constraint of the constitution and any other statutes passed by the Legislature and appropriate authorized agencies of government. This is not a difficult task to implement. Simply have in place a mandatory training by all domestic securities personnel, that cover the relevant topics of required knowledge, document compliance by each member of the securities forces and regularly, including supervisory structures that are held accountable for compliance by their respective units. This will be a good beginning.

    While I am not a security personnel and have no background in this area, I think the same theory used from my legal, risk management and compliance background and the success of guidelines I developed in compliance with laws and my firms’ internal policies can also be applied here. I think to believe that Chairperson Colley is thinking along that same line.

    I do agree with Sylvester’s comments above, and it appears to be from someone with a background in security, so I’m cautious enough to leave how my suggestions are implemented to someone with such subject matter expertise.

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