For threatening remarks against civilians on social media
While hierarchies of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and authorities the Ministry of Defense (MoD) were thinking that they have taken a stringent action against Corporal Sieh Collins, who recently threatened violence against peaceful protesters in Monrovia, a major stakeholder in the security sector has called for a tougher action against the soldier.
Conmany B. Wesseh, Senate Co-chairman on the committee on Defense and Security, has called the military high command to discharge Corporal Collins from active service, noting that his action is “unacceptable in the new army forces.”
The MoD announced in June that Corporal Collins was investigated for “inflammatory, and threats against Liberians, and was found liable for failing to uphold Military Regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).”
In a social media post, he threatened to kill anyone, who would go on the streets of Monrovia to protest, and he would do that with joy.
The MoD release then added, “The Ministry of National Defense through the AFL has completed the investigation of one of its soldiers, in person of Corporal Sieh Collins for allegedly posting threatening statement from his Facebook profile against individuals planning to protest on June 7, 2019 in Monrovia.”
The post from Cpl. Collins’ Facebook account read: “I will never regret killing anybody on the street of Monrovia to keep his country safe. Remembering our children are in school and Liberia is safe, trust me, I will kill you with happiness.”
The investigation reportedly held Cpl. Collins liable for contravening the UCMJ Article: 92 Failure to Obey Order or Regulations and General Article: 134 Threat Communication. Therefore, he has been subjected to the Disciplinary Board of the AFL.
The AFL high command said at the time that Corporal Collins will be punished in accordance with the UCMJ.
The public was outraged over his comments with some calling for his immediate dismissal from the force. These calls have however been buttressed by a major stakeholders after the initial actions from the AFL high command.
Speaking at a symposium held at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia on Monday, August 12, Senator Conmany B. Wesseh said that the army should remain a “force for good,” and should not be politicized—terming the action of Corporate Collins as “dangerous,” and this should not be condoned in the new and progressive AFL.
The event commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions (GCs) and organized by the Liberian National Red Cross Society (LNRCS), the Liberian Internal Humanitarian Law Committee (LIHLC) and the AFL with the support of the International Committee of Red Cross Liberia Office.
Senator Wesseh said a character like Collins should not be allowed around the AFL as it cannot afford to be a regime army anymore.
“I don’t know whether you have reinstated him, but he should never come back in the AFL. Such things should not be happening. You should be helping to protect our country, and our people, because you are the muscles of our national security,” he told the AFL.
The River Gee Lawmaker said that there is a need for the country’s army to be professional and disciplined. “That is why the government ensured that emphasis was placed on certain laws during the reform process of the national security forces on instruments to ensure that officers do not become instruments of violence,” he said.
Wesseh added, “When that happens, it is the soldiers and the civilian population that suffer the most, so we don’t want that happening in the country again.”
“That is why we were very happy when we heard that the senior command of the AFL took a stance against one soldier, who wanted to damage the reputation of the new AFL,”
When contacted, Assistant Minister of Defense for Public Affairs, Sam Collins, did not deny or confirm as to whether Corporal Sieh Collins has been discharged from the military.
“I will call you back,” he told this reporter, but did not do so up to the publication of this story, though there were series of follow up phone calls placed to him, which he did not answer.
However, the GCs were designed to protect people, and have indeed saved countless lives and reduced suffering across hundreds of armed conflicts. Saving lives, alleviating suffering and responding to people’s needs remain the driving force behind Conventions and their rules are meant to protect the safety, dignity and well-being of people affected by armed conflict.