…Says Govt’s Policy Uncoordinated
Former Public Works Minister Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods has called on the government to re-open the National Chronicle Newspaper and halt all further intimidation of the media.
Atty. Woods in a statement also called on the government to lift all restrictions on the freedom on the paper’s publisher to travel.
He warned that the state of emergency in Liberia should not be used by government and its security forces as a shadow or pretext for the violation of individual and collective rights.
Atty. Woods said a state of emergency imposed to address a health crisis should not be used to shoot people and to restrict press freedom and freedom of speech.
Woods condemned the shooting of Shaki Kamara allegedly by soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia, as well as the closure of the National Chronicle Newspaper; terming these actions as overreaching, heavy handed and unwarranted.
He is calling on the Government of Liberia to commission an independent inquiry into circumstances leading to the shooting and killing of Kamara and the bullet wounds suffered by another citizen.
The former Public Works Minister insists that the inquiry should also examine the constitutionality of the blanketed state of emergency, the use of the security forces during this national health emergency, as well as their deportment and exercise of force.
He noted that the work of the independent panel must also consider the future role of security and military personnel in non- military crisis, and the improvement of the psychology and capacity of security forces to deal with matters of civil engagements.
“How can we impose a national state of emergency, quarantine entire swaths of our population, restrict the movement of our own people, but at the same time criticize other countries and even airlines for imposing similar restrictions on our citizens,” Woods argued.
Woods: “Without any doubt, the Government’s policies and actions appear uncoordinated, fragmented and fraught with contradictions. This has led to increased distrust in our national government and lack of national ownership of the on-going fight against the Ebola Virus”, the renowned human rights activist averred.
He noted that some of the recent policies of government constitute what he terms as “moral sin and ethical transgression against the poor and weak in our society,” emphasizing that government must return to the drawing board to review some of those policy options, in the hope of restoring confidence and re-energizing the fight against Ebola.