Several aggrieved workers of the Judicial Branch of Government were manhandled by officers of the Liberia National Police riot squad on Monday, October 12, 2020, when they assembled at the entrance of the Supreme with the thought that staging a peaceful protest during the opening of the Supreme Court would provide them the opportunity to have redress for the 12-month unpaid Liberian dollar component of their salaries.
It was not clear under whose authorization the officers used force to drag the protesters outside of the compound of the Temple of Justice to the Executive Manson entrance opposite the Supreme Court.
It started when the aggrieved employees assembled at the entrance of the Supreme Court building in an attempt to ensure that their plight grasps the attention of senior public officials including President George Weah who are usually invited to grace the opening of the Supreme Court.
Before they assembled, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor had informed the aggrieved workers that Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, would visit the Temple of Justice on Wednesday, October 14 to address their concern that had led to numerous protests against him (Korkpor), which resulted into the disruption of court activities.
While the protesters took their peaceful posture, standing at the entrance of the Supreme Court, it was when the head of the LNP’s Police Support Unit (PSU), with a request from the Chief Justice, issued an order to have the workers forcefully removed from the premises of the Temple of Justice. With that order, the police began beating the protesters, leaving several judicial workers wounded and unconscious. Their leader, Archie Ponpon, was taken to the hospital for treatment along with others.
Shortly after the police succeeded in driving out the protesters from the premises of the Temple of Justice, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah appeared and addressed some of the aggrieved workers.
Minister Tweah publicly told the workers that “Chief Justice Francis Korkpor did not eat your money. Even, the government is indebted to Justice Korkpor,” he explained.
“I have witnessed people raining insults on Chief Justice Korkpor and other Justices. They did not eat a dime of your money,” Minister Tweah told the workers who were not touched when the police brutalized their colleagues. “Harmonization ended the Liberian dollars salaries payment,” Minister Tweah added.
Minister Tweah also informed the protesters that the government was going to make available three months of their salaries before the end of the week.
“We are going to pay you for three months; July August and September, but the check will be one bulk check as a restoration in addition to the October 2020 pay,” Minister Tweah assured the protesters.
Minister Tweah also told the workers that, while their concerns are genuine, those issues will be discussed with their (aggrieved workers’) leadership and staff of his ministry.
“You will now notice the changes in your salaries after the meeting with our staff, because the formula we are using would be explained to you by October 13,” Tweah said.