Following the just-released verdict of Lebanese national cleared of charges against girls that were trafficked to Lebanon by Abbas El Debes on Monday by the judge of the 11th Circuit Court in Tubmanburg, due to government lawyers being unlicensed and without direct evidence to prosecute, the case has captured the attention of Liberians at home and abroad.Several citizens and non-citizens have provided mixed reactions about the issue.Many of those interviewed believe in the saying: “No justice for the poor’ and therefore urged the international community to look keenly in the issue and protect these girls from the state of disgrace and agony they are experiencing in their own communities.Exclusive InterviewsSpeaking to this paper in an exclusive interview yesterday in Monrovia, a sophomore student of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) Mr. Frederick Tulay, 24, said that he is very angry about the government’s failure to protect its citizens especially in such case.“I’m really feeling bad about this situation to see a Lebanese National being set free due to government’s own failure to provide capable, licensed lawyers to plead the case of its citizens.“It’s a total disgrace for us in Liberia because our government doesn’t value its citizens but gives credence to foreigners to destroy the future of our sisters,” he said.“Liberia must be able to value its citizens, must take key interest in the wellbeing of every Liberian not only when the leaders wants to seek state power. If something is not done about this, it’s dangerous to the world because Liberians in other countries will also be marginalized because the government cannot protect its citizens.”“As a woman I feel so much disenchanted because the girls that went through this terrible experience are women like myself who will love to receive justice in my country as it relates to this matter,” 23 year old Fatumata Jabbie of the AME University said with emotions. She explained that from the day the girls set their feet on Liberian soil, she was pleased with the manner in which the government reacted by taking a huge delegation to receive them at the airport but, to her surprise, the entire case turned to be different with Abbas being set free without charges.“The government through our justice system should have carried out better investigation if they didn’t believe these girls, by at least sending them along with some officials of government to Lebanon to see for themselves the pains our sisters went through.‘But nobody believed in them so they provided unlicensed lawyers to plead for them and allow Abbas to go free without punishment but we will all pray to our God for justice to be done one day,” Ms. Jabbie of New Georgia said.Joseph Kwesi, a Ghanaian citizen and a petty trader in Red-light, told this paper that what happened in Liberia cannot go on in his country Ghana especially with foreigner ill-treating citizens in the country.“In my country this is a very big issue because our government prioritize citizens; therefore total justice was going to be done for our sisters. I really feel their pains and understand the difficulties they went through and after all they went through was it unfortunate to receive no justice from government,” he said. Madam Rosetta Brown, a mother of 4 children who trades in charcoal business in the 12th street community, called on other women’s groups to work along with the girls in order to reintegrate them in the society despite the unfortunate situation they are undergoing.“I am a mother and I know what it means for your children to go through serious torture, this man shouldn’t have been set free and we keep preaching Gender issues in our country this is an abomination for our country.“As poor mothers who don’t have money to pay for justice, we will keep praying for God himself to handle this difficult issue that our government couldn’t fight for us and make our children to go through shame in their own motherland,” Madam Brown said.She meanwhile encouraged the ladies to firstly focus on God for their justice and use their stories to defend other women that are going through similar issues in other countries.“Make the world to know that this is not the end of your lives but a strong test of times in life to strengthen you for the future challenges ahead of you and make mama Liberia a proud nation that we can count on for justice for the poor,” she uged the girls with tears in her eyes.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Walter Rodney CoI report– said report should not be used as political footballBy Alexis RodneyWhile agreeing with the call by People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, for the final reportWPA Executive, Dr David Hindsof the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI) be sent to Parliamentary Special Select Committee, executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr David Hinds has cautioned the two major political units against using the report as a political football, and urged that it be used as a force that could propel a “conversation” against the abuse and misuse of the State Apparatus.Hinds, speaking with Guyana Times in an exclusive interview, reined in the fact that Guyanese are tired of both the PPP and the People’s National Congress/A Partnership for National Unity (PNC/APNU), using the very inquiry as a “political football”. When the inquiry was first established back in February 2014 by former President Donald Ramotar, and with the allegation that the PNC had killed Dr Rodney, then opposition leader and now President David Granger had maintained that the inquiry was being used as a tool to tarnish the good name of the PNC. Ramotar denied this assertion and pointed to the call made by Dr Rodney’s widow and her children for an investigation into his death.Some two years later, and with the final report of the Presidential Inquiry being made public, the PPP, now in opposition is very concerned that the details of the report may never be scrutinized. The party’s Teixeira was somewhat emotional during the 37th sitting of the National Assembly earlier this month, when House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland informed that her motion to have the report sent to the committee could not be considered.Hinds said he wants to believe that Teixeira might have been genuine in her call for the report to be considered for debate in Parliament; however, he was also aware that political parties have a way in turning “genuine things into political footballs.” “I agree that it should be sent to the Parliamentary Select Committee. It should be laid in Parliament and there should be a debate on it. I am not quite sure of the workings of Parliament and what it being sent to the Parliamentary Select Committee is set to achieve… My suspicion of the scenario by the PPP is grounded in the very birth of the Commission of Inquiry,” Hinds told Guyana Times.He added that he is firmly for justice for Dr Rodney and believes that all Guyanese are: “But for both sides wanting to make it a political football, I am totally against that. It should be laid against Parliament, the President has given his undertaking that it be laid before Parliament. It was handed over to the Speaker and that there will be some level of debate, whether if it is at the level of the select committee or in Parliament, it doesn’t matter. What I want is for it not to be made a political football.”Hinds, speaking of the call by Teixeira, said if her initiative to get the report before a select committee is to advance a conversation on State and political violence against the opposition, then that is the conversation he wants to be had.“We are tired of this throwing stones at each other. I think Walter Rodney means more to Guyana, more to the world than to be used to be throwing stones… if the report should be used for anything, it should be used to start a conversation among the leaders and the people, about the misuse of state apparatus against political opponents,” he stressed.Details coming out of the 18-month investigation, heard evidence from numerous witnesses, that the Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham regime of the 1980s had been very forceful and had used its political power to injure smaller and defenceless political parties. Rodney, a world respected political and social activist, died in June 1980, after a communication device he was examining exploded in his lap.It was the theory of those close to the founding Leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), that the man he had somewhat come to trust; a then Guyana Defence Force Sergeant and communications expert William Gregory Smith, had implanted the explosive in the device Rodney was expected to test.The theory claimed too that the Government of the day, the People’s National Congress and its leader Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, had used Smith to carry out the attack.In the report the three Commissioners – Barbados Queen’s Counsel Richard Cheltenham, Jamaican Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad-based Guyanese Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam – concluded that given all the relevant facts, events and circumstances set out in the report, they could do nothing else but establish that William Gregory Smith was not acting alone but had the active and full support, participation and encouragement of, and/or was aided and abetted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) – both agencies of the State – and the political directorate including Prime Minister Forbes Burnham in the killing of Dr Rodney.