LIBERIA’S PERMANENT Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr, Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection, were in South Korea attending the International Maritime Organization (IMO) GHG SMART Practical Training and Study Visit from September 19-23, 2022 when the alleged rape occurred.
MORE EMBARRASSING about this allegation is the aspersions it casts on the Government of Liberia.
THE FREQUENCY of rape in Liberia is alarming and the fight against it has been very daunting – overwhelming all agencies responsible to curtail it and ensure justice is served.
It can be recalled that in 2020, President George Manneh Weah declared rape a national emergency and ordered new measures to tackle the problem after heightened awareness on the spike of cases.
HIS DECLARATION came after months of consultative meetings that he chaired himself with his cabinet ministers, legislators, and the judiciary, which culminated into the development of a ANTI-SGBV Roadmap. He further hosted a two days all-of-government validation conference, with the added voices of civil society, women NGOs, Traditional and national youth leaders, and the international community to ensure all voices were heard in the document.
PRESIDENT WEAH mandated the establishment and operationalization of a National Anti-SGBV Taskforce led by the Gender Ministry, the office of a special prosecutor for rape under the Ministry of Justice, as well as the setting up of a national sex offender registry.
THESE ARE COMMENDABLE efforts by President Weah who prides himself as Liberia’s Feminist-in-Chief. But all these efforts are meaningless when Liberians do not see real concrete actions being taken against perpetrators of rape.
DURING HIS RECENT speech at the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Weah also iterated his stance against gender-based violence, while stressing that his government is working assiduously through legislation to stop harmful practices against women.
WE COMMEND the Liberia Maritime Authority and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for their swift condemnation of the act should it be true and the reiteration of their zero-tolerance of rape.
HOWEVER, it is our hope that this would not be treated as business as usual.
President Weah must exhibit his truthfulness and seriousness in the fight against rape and the preservation of Liberia’s international image.
PRESIDENT WEAH must realize that his slow response to issues of national concern leaves a lot of room for questioning of his ability to lead. It also raises concerns over his commitment to curtailing some societal menace Liberia has been grappling with.
THE TWO LIBERIAN officials must be dismissed for they have brought the image of the country inmto public disrepute.
BEING ON AN international assignment for the country is a privilege that must be held in highest esteem.
WE EXPECT that officials of government must be very conversant with the President’s stance on rape and must be guided by that stance at all times. They must uphold very high moral standards and values at all times no matter where they find themselves.
THE ALLEGATION of rape against these officials must not be taken lightly by President Weah, for doing so would only be showing the world his insensitivity towards violence against women and his acceptance of impunity on rape and other issues of gender-based violence.