The INCHR, in its report on the January 6 Protest, accused the Liberia National Police(LNP) of breaking the rules of engagement by the use of force against “peaceful protesters” when they dispersed them by the use of tear gas and hot water cannon.
In a press statement issued in Monrovia on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, Atty. Bartholomew B. Colley, Acting Chairman of the INCHR, called for an investigation of the LNP over the use of “excessive of force” by state security against peaceful protesters during the protest.
The INCHR and CSO Platform said, their monitors observed that the LNP Team on the protest ground headed by Deputy Inspector General for Operation, Mr. Marvin Sackor, without any prior warning, ordered the use of water cannon and tear gas against the protesters and bystanders to disperse the crowd.
“The excessive use of force by the LNP against the protesters, who had been peaceful all day on Monday, January 6, 2020, was totally disproportionate and unwarranted. Efforts by the INCHR and the CSO human rights platform leaderships to dissuade the police action were ignored by the Police Deputy Director-General for Operation because he claimed he had received orders from above to totally disperse the crowd of protesters,” Atty. Colley, among other things, asserted.
It can be recalled that on Monday, January 6, 2020, riot police in Monrovia used tear gas and water cannons to disperse dozens of protesters under the banner- Council of Patriots (CoP) who took to the streets to demand the Government of Liberia(GoL) to implement recommendations in a petition they claimed was presented during similar protest in June of last year.
The protesters were not chased out of the vicinity of Capitol Hill in Monrovia in minutes until they took rice,pots, charcoal and other such kits on the street sandwiched by the CapitolBuilding and the Executive Mansion, to indicate that they would spend the nightthere cooking.
They reportedly failed to heed numerous police warning to desist from engaging in such action, thus prompting the scuffle that led to use of the teargas and water cannons.
According to the organizers of the protest, their January 6, 2020 action was a follow-up to the June 7, 2019 protest after which they “presented”a petition to the GoLto institute certain policy reform measures and promote transparency and accountability.
TheCoP is headed by Provocative Talk Show Host, Mr. Henry P. Costa.
But Police Director Sudue, on the other hand, accused the INHRC of being “bias” and embarking on “a smear campaign” against the police and the GoL.
“I see them as not being independent because they think they want to use the police as a means of getting international support,” the Police chief told journalists.
Commenting further on the claim by the INHRC that the (LNP) did not engage the January 6 Protesters before using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, Sudue, who bragged of video evidence, contended that there is no one person that the human rights commission pointed to say that this is one of the victims that excessive force was used against.
“There was nobody injured or nobody taken to the hospital , so how can you say the police used excessive force,” the LNP Boss, who categorically dispelled widespread rumors that the police used “excessive force” to disperse the protesters, averred that no one from the INHRC contacted the LNP during its probe of the incident.