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Friday, July 19, 2024

HOR REPORT CRITICIZES BEA MOUNTAIN FOR PARTIAL IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Date:

LIBERIA – The House of Representatives on Thursday, July 4, 2024, endorsed a report from its Ad hoc Committee on the Validation of the Implementation of the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC). According to the Committee, investigations and validations show that the Management of Bea Mountain Mining Corporation has not fully executed all the recommendations stipulated in its report. The Special Legislative Intervention Committee noted that while some recommendations are long-term initiatives and others fall under the purview of government entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education (MOE), the management of Bea Mountain Corporation has made substantial efforts to implement those recommendations. These efforts have reportedly restored calm within the BMMC operations areas.

The report emphasized that relevant ministries and agencies must carry out their functions to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) by Bea Mountain in the interest of the workers. Following a reading and subsequent floor debate, the House endorsed the recommendations, mandating that Bea Mountain Mining Corporation adhere to all the recommendations. Additionally, relevant government ministries and agencies are to ensure that the mining company fully implements these recommendations.

The endorsement comes amidst a backdrop of significant unrest and protests against the mining company, with protesters accusing BMMC of poor labor practices. On February 28 and 29, 2024, what began as a peaceful assembly of citizens and workers of Bea Mountain Mining Company took a tragic turn. Individuals gathered to demand better working conditions, fair benefits, and a commitment from the company to uphold its social corporate responsibility, as guaranteed by Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution. However, the demonstration turned deadly when the Liberian National Police (LNP), allegedly acting in the interests of BMMC, brutally took the lives of three unarmed citizens: Essah Massaley, Abraham Kerkula, and another individual. These protestors were shot in their backs while attempting to escape the excessive use of force by the police.

The actions of the LNP during the protest have been widely condemned as a gross violation of basic human rights. According to a press statement issued on Friday, April 26, 2024, the use of lethal force against peaceful and unarmed demonstrators directly contravenes Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which asserts the right to life and safety for all individuals. Shockingly, the investigation conducted by the Professional Standard Department of the LNP sought to justify the killings, claiming the use of lethal force was necessary. However, this report has been criticized as deeply flawed and biased, absolving the police officers who admitted to discharging their weapons of any wrongdoing. The community demands accountability and justice for the lives lost at the hands of those sworn to protect them.

In light of these violations, there is a pressing need for an independent forensic investigation to uncover the truth behind the events of February 29, 2024. The families of the victims have enlisted legal counsel and international consultants to navigate this critical period and ensure those responsible are held accountable. The international community has also been called upon to intervene and provide independent investigators, as the integrity of the Liberian National Police is in question. The Bea Mountain facility should be preserved as a crime scene until a thorough examination by independent forensic criminal investigators is conducted.

The events in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County, serve as a stark reminder of the importance of upholding human rights and ensuring accountability for those in positions of power. As the pursuit of justice continues, the world watches, ready to stand in solidarity with the people of Liberia in their quest for truth and reconciliation.

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