Bishops in Liberia Decry “gross violations” in Enforcing COVID-19 State of Emergency

The logo of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Liberia (CABICOL)

Bishops in the West African nation of Liberia have decried brutality on the part of security agencies in the process of enforcing the three-week state of emergency, which the country’s President declared on April 10 as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Since the declaration, there have been gross violations and missteps in the enforcement of the state of emergency and the measures as announced by the President,” the Bishops have stated in a collective statement issued by the National Commission of Catholic Justice, Peace and Caritas (NCJPC) dated Wednesday, May 6.

Under their umbrella body, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia (CABICOL), the Church leaders have acknowledged that “during a statement of emergency, certain rights are suspended.”

In the collective statement, the Bishops reiterated that during a state of emergency, “the dignity of every human being is and must be upheld.” 

The Prelates made reference to the April 23 video recording that went viral showing security personnel believed to be officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) and Executive Protective Services (EPS), “torturing, flogging, and using sticks” to punish 33-year-old Mohammed Komara, on grounds that he bridged security at the President’s house.


The Bishops have also highlighted another April 28 viral video in which security officers at Capitol Building, the sitting of the country’s Parliament, are seen dragging a Contractor identified as Mr. Gus Winn, who had gone to demand  money owed to him for painting the building before the 3rd sitting of the 54 Legislature.

“(The) Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers in Kakata manhandled a motorcyclist who was taking a pregnant woman in labor to the C.H.Rennie Hospital, on grounds  that he violated the 3 p.m. curfew,” the West African Prelates have noted in the one-page statement seen by ACI Africa.

“The pregnant woman fell from the bike, got burned on the leg and wounded in the process,” the Bishops bemoaned.

They also decried the threats to the media by the country’s Solicitor General who, in a statement, warned that the government will go after media houses and seize their properties when they report fake news.

In the considered opinion of the Bishops, these incidences and other acts of brutalities by law enforcement agencies are “totally unacceptable and must stop!”

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“The NCJPC would like to remind the Government and its functionaries, that (the) Constitution has not been suspended,” the Bishops have cautioned and added, “The National Legislature and (the) Judiciary and as such, issues of violations must be dealt with in a civilized and legal manner.”

The country has confirmed 170 COVID-19 cases, 20 deaths, and 58 recoveries.