The spokesperson of the Liberia National Police, H. Moses Carter, said at least five persons, who were taken into ‘protective custody’ during a violent attack which rocked the quiet suburbs of Sinkor two weeks ago, has been released.
The five individuals were part of a larger group of people who were said to be attending a birthday party in Sinkor at a Drop-In-Center (DIC) owned and operated by Population Services International (PSI) when they came under a massive attack from residents of the community over suspicion they were “Gays” (homosexuals).
“A total of five persons were brought to our headquarters. Some of them sustained injuries as a result of the stone-throwing,” Carter said.
The party, according to sources, was the 33rd birth anniversary of a staff member of PSI, and the entity seized the occasion to boost attendance at the DIC, following a previous incident last year that dampened the interest of a key section of the population who frequent the location for regular HIV/AIDS checkups.
Carter said the five individuals will not be forwarded to court as they are victims who the police had ‘saved’ from mob violence and prosecution is out of the question as they were not “caught in the act of homosexuality.”
Articles 14.74, 14.79 and 50.7 [of the Penal Code of 1976] consider “voluntary sodomy” as a first-degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment.
However, Liberia’s gay community says harassment and discrimination are widespread against their associates, but Carter furthered that the police could not arrest any of the assailants.
“It was during the night hours; we only managed to restore calm in the midst of the stone-throwing,” he said.
PSI Liberia continues to remain silent on probes by journalRAGE over the level of security measures employed, which would have staved off the attack from community members.
But in a statement published in local news outlets including the Daily Observer, PSI Liberia Country Director, Rajiv Dua, said rumors circulating on social media that the entity was hosting a “Gay party” are “rumors of evil.”
According to the statement, Dua said that the party, hosted by ‘Saranna,’ was the birthday of one of their clients at the center, during which time PSI peer educators would take advantage to conduct HIV/AIDS testing and counseling to those vulnerable groups, most of whom showed up during the night hours.
“They invaded our premises because of wrong rumors,” Dua is quoted in the statement.
“We provide HIV & AIDS testing and counseling at that premises, and the party was set up to ensure that a greater part of the population of this vulnerable group showed up to be tested and counseled, but unfortunately, people with no idea of what was happening invaded and manhandled them,” he said.
However, observers say the imbroglio at the center could have been prevented if the organization had employed stringent security measures. But Carter added, “The police only got involved when the altercation broke out.”