MONROVIA-Five Major Civil Society actors have called for the dismissal of Atty. Mohammed Fahnbulleh is one of the Commissioners of the Independent National Human Rights Commission.
The five actors to include; Cllr. Margaret Nigba, Executive Director of Her Voice Liberia, Loretta Pope Kai, Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, Lawrence Yealue Executive Director of Accountability Lab, Danieletta Sleyon, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy and Amb. George Kingsley, Coordinator of Montserrado, National Civil Society Council of Liberia jointly made the call to President George Weah on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at the grounds of the Temple Of Justice after a court ruling.
Following hours of legal discussions at the Civil Law Court on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, judge Ousman F. Feika ruled and branded the petition for judicial review filed by embattled Commissioner Mohammed Fahnbulleh as premature.
According to the judge, the subject matter out of which the petition for judicial review grows is an administrative hearing.
The administrative hearing is normally done in Ministries and Agencies of Government and as well as private institutions as an internal mechanism to resolve internal and as well as external disputes related to the function and or employees on the one hand and or employer’s employee relationship.
At the same time, the court ordered Atty. Fahnbulleh to exhaust all of the internal remedies of the Human Rights Commission.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the five Civil Society actors who are also part of the independent investigation committee, welcomed the decision by the judge and termed it as a good day for the Human Rights community of Liberia.
The committee members argued that you can not have a Human Rights Commissioner who should be protecting the Rights of people be seen allegedly violating the rights of others, especially innocent females.
“Atty Fahnbulleh does not deserve to be at the Human Rights Commission and if President Weah says he is really a feminist in chief then he needs to have Commissioner Mohammed Fahnbulleh removed from the Human Rights Commission “, they maintained.
According to one of the Members, Lawrence Yealue, they did an independent and transparent job void of interferences.
He said it is about time that the legal system protects the innocent and vulnerable people in society noting that gone at the days when people will use their education to suppress the innocent class.
“Fahnbulleh has opened a campaign against himself and we will push this to the core President Weah needs to do the needful especially when another female in his words has fallen”, Mr. Yealue added.
As for Chairperson Loretta Pope Kai, she alleged that Fahnbulleh is not qualified to be one of the Commissioners at the Independent Human Rights Commission and needs to leave now.
“I am doing a written communication to President Weah to this effect to show our serious on this issue ” Fahnbulleh needs to go in order to avoid using his position allegedly to stop abusing women”, Madam Kai reemphasized.
She used the occasion to call on the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Liberia to see the need to do more training for Commissioners at the Human Rights Commission.
The National Civil Society Council of Liberia Chairperson also commended the victim with a name withheld for braving the storm in exposing acts of sexual harassment and abuse at a commission that should be speaking against such issues or human rights violations.
Both Ambassador George Kingsley, Coordinator of the National Human Rights Civil Society Council of Liberia, Montserrado chapter, and Madam Danieletta Sleyon, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy said they were surprised by the action by Atty. Fahnbulleh.
According to them, their committee does not have the power to render a verdict on anyone as such, what they submitted to the Independent National Commission on Human Rights was just findings and recommendations from their independent investigation.
” He should have known better as Atty. At Law but all praises go to the court today, we Welcomed their decision”, they added.
Ambassador Kingsley stated that the Human Rights Commission needs to be commended for setting up an independent investigation body to investigate one of their commissioners and this is a good step in the right direction he hopes that other public offices can follow suit”, he added.
The issue of violence especially against women has to stop and we are ready and prepared to come down on would-be violators in line with the law, Amb. Kingsley blasted.
The committee which is chaired by Cllr. Margaret Nigba started its work in September of 2022, conducted hearings with all parties involved in the case, and submitted findings and recommendations to the Independent National Human Rights Commission on December 19, 2022.
In some of its findings submitted to the Human Rights Commission according to Cllr. Nigba established that Atty. Fahnbulleh had interacted with the victim and he admitted to them before even though he denied such on Wednesday during an interview with reporters.
The report also calls for the establishment of a gender desk at the Human Rights Commission office which among other things will help ensure that people are free and safe to report such issues when they happen.
Moreover, it calls on President George Weah to visit the Commission’s office and do proper investigation because according to her, there is a serious internal crisis among commissioners and it needs to be addressed in the wake of the crucial 2023 elections which will have some human rights issues but in the face of current unfoldings, she wonders who will hear such human rights case when they occur during the elections.
The victim, the report also recommended psycho-social counseling for her because they stated that her mental safety is key.
Speaking on the case, Cllr. Nigba stressed that her committee did very good work in face of distraction and intimidation but she was not deterred but rather use her professional skills, experience, and expertise to get the job done void of sentiments.
She also commended the Human Rights Commission for reposing confidence in her to chair such an independent committee, especially with her vice background in legal and human rights issues in Liberia.
“I joined my colleagues to call on President Weah to dismiss Atty. Fahnbulleh because he allegedly does not have what it takes to be a commissioner, imagine, he can not allegedly distinguish Sexual Exploitation and Abuse from offensive touching”, she noted.
The Executive Director of Her Voice Liberia claimed that Atty. Fahnbulleh opted for offensive touching as his charge on the victim order then Sexual harassment.
“Can anyone in the public tell me any unwanted touch without the person’s concern, how is it called”, this is laughable, she added.