Why Ask for “Tribe” in a Police Investigation?


Mr. Editor:

It is disheartening to know that the Liberian society still highly tribalistic as it was a hundred years ago. Everywhere you go, people are desirous of knowing which tribe you hail from as though it is more important than the fact that you are a Liberian.

I am taken aback and disappointed when police stations and other law enforcement agencies ask the question, “What is your tribe?” when investigating cases brought before them.

The other day, I proceeded to a local police station to report an incident which occurred at my residence.

The officer on duty asked a lot of questions to ascertain my place of residence, name, occupation, etc. Further, she asked me about my county of origin. My heart leaped with joy when I told her my county of origin is Cape Mount County. I then concluded quickly that there would be no need to ask about my tribe since she already knew my county of origin.

My joy was short-lived. This question was immediately succeeded by the question: “What is your tribe?”. My face turned blue as I reluctantly said “Vai”.

Now, do not get me wrong, I am proud to be who I am – a Vai – but the question is how does knowing a person’s tribe help the police to expeditiously adjudicate cases. I think it rather creates partiality amongst law enforcement officers in the execution of the duties.

Let me close by strongly admonishing the Minister of Justice to remove the question “What is your tribe?” from the questionnaire sheets at all police stations and other law enforcement agencies within the length and breadth of Liberia.

Remember, knowing person’s tribe during investigation does more harm than good in the adjudication of the case.


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