Not The Democracy Anticipated For Our Nation

MONROVIA-The Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) is calling on all human rights and civil society organizations including the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, the media, and stakeholders to join its call for a free, fair, and speedy trial for Journalists Bettie Johnson Mbayo et al.

According to the Writ of Arrest issued journalist Mbayo on January 17 along with her husband and Johnson Kerkulah to be identified; they are to stand trial for felonious restraint, terroristic threats, and disorderly conduct which is a violation of section 14.24; 17.3 and 14.51 of the New Penal Code of Liberia.

According to the Ministry of Justice, on January 15, while parked in Rep Cole’s driveway and was requested to remove their vehicle to enable the ‘honorable’ man enter his yard, journalist Mbayo and team who referred to him as ‘madman’ yet took a stone and immediately hit Rep. Cole on his chest.

The prosecutor informed the court that Defendant Kerkulah even removed his waist belt to flog the lawmaker; yet the defendants ran to the police to report the matter and while finding ways to amicably resolve this, Rep. Cole calls a press conference and accuses FeJAL of not reaching to hear his side of the story when he has already taken the matter to court. Now that FeJAL has heard from both sides of what transpired that led to the manhandling of one of its members, journalist Mbayo along with others, the Association reminds Rep Marvin Cole that his action is a violation of human rights and the Constitution of Liberia which should be condemned in the strongest term. Being a member of the first branch of government, Mr. Cole should understand that no citizen irrespective of his/her status has the right to order the flogging of another citizen; no matter the gravity of the alleged crime.

What is even more troubling is that a lawmaker who is supposed to be the custodian and respecter of the very laws he/she makes is found wanting in upholding the civil rights of another citizen when in fact said the situation could have been avoided.

FeJAL also expresses its disappointment in how the matter was handled by the first responder, the Liberian National Police (LNP), who made Bettie, the initial complaint, the defendant as a way of shielding Rep. Cole from accounting for his inhumane behavior thereby slamming the complainants with unwarranted offenses. Victims Bettie, her husband Moses, and Kerkulah, now perpetrators, are requested to file a bond 48 hours before the Paynesville Magisterial Court, and for us; this is not the democracy we anticipated as a nation. Howbeit, the matter is already before the court thus making the perpetrator Marvin Cole the victim; we are therefore urging those handling the matter, to proceed on a more neutral path in its adjudication so that it reaches its logical conclusion even if it means that it will reach the Supreme Court.

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