Liberia: Investigate Police Officer Accused of Rape – Human Rights Commission Urges Moj

The Independent National Human Rights Commission is calling on the Ministry of Justice to act on allegations of rape reported by a junior female Liberian National Police officer against a senior police officer.

According to a February 10, 2022 complaint filed with the Commission, the alleged rape occurred on November 25, 2021, when the senior officer summoned the female officer to his office at around 4:45 p.m. The report alleges that the complaint official file with the Liberian National Police has not been reviewed since November 2021 and that it is still awaiting recommendations from the Department of Professional Standards on whether the allegation of rape, as made by the female junior officer , whether or not it is of sufficient magnitude to warrant a formal charge of rape against the male officer.

The INCHR, in a press release, notes that while there have been multiple requests for the police to hand over the officer to the proper authorities to ensure accountability, LNP authorities have argued that a preliminary investigation must first be conducted by its Professional Standards Council. before any further legal proceedings can follow.

According to the police, Section 22.91(d) of the Liberia National Police Establishment Act 2015 provides that “the PSD shall conduct all disciplinary proceedings against all NLP officers below the rank of Deputy Inspector General of the police”.

The statement indicates that it is in the context of internal police procedures that INCHR views the power granted to the Professional Standards Board to pre-investigate serious allegations such as rape, as well as the submission of recommendations of the Council to the Inspector General of Police for consideration, decision and action, undermines and challenges established legal standards, as well as national gains made in the fight against rape in Liberia.

The Commission recalls that in September 2021, President George Manneh Weah declared rape a national emergency in Liberia and that prior to this declaration, liability for rape had to be legislated within very high standards under the laws of Liberia. .

It specifically says that Section 25.3(a) of the Criminal Court E (Sex Offenses Court) Act provides limited jurisdiction for magistrate courts in cases of rape to the charge of an offence. and the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of indicted persons, not a preliminary examination.

The Commission finds that the parity of reasoning that prevents a magistrate from conducting a preliminary review in rape cases at the magistrates’ court level is an overwhelming basis for which the Police Professional Standards Board cannot and does not should not carry out a preliminary examination in the allegation of rape brought against the senior police officer”, pleads the INCHR.

He similarly says it is also a basis for which the Director of Police cannot sit as judge and jury to accept, modify or reject recommendations emanating from the Professional Standards Board, observing that this great flexibility and l The influence of police authority raises serious rights concerns as it tends to undermine access to justice for rape and other forms of sexual offences. “This latitude to conduct preliminary hearings first in rape cases also puts police officers accused of rape in a different category than other people accused of rape.”

INCHR further informs that the special nature of this case makes it more compelling and expedient to apply the highest standards under Liberian law, noting that both the petitioner and the accused are officers and that the act would have took place on the premise of the Liberian National Police is of grave concern.

He recalls that on June 20, 2020, an LNP officer was charged with raping a fifteen-year-old girl at a police substation in Monrovia, after the victim was taken into custody in response to attempted rape against said individual.

The victim, he said, reported that while in police custody later that night, an on-duty night guard had sex with her, noting that this past incident underscores the need for the LNP to allow the law to take its course, as the police station should be one of the safest places in Monrovia.

In the meantime, the Commission calls on the Department of Justice to act on the rape allegations against the senior police officer and recognizes that the essence of the prosecution is not limited to establishing guilt, but also to ensure that justice is done.

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