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Saturday, July 20, 2024

MAJORITY OF INCHR COMMISSIONERS CONDEMN CHAIRPERSON’S ACCUSATIONS AGAINST PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL ADVISOR

Date:

MONROVIA – The majority of commissioners at the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) have condemned accusations of interference leveled against Presidential Legal Advisor Busheben Keita by INCHR Chairperson Cllr. T. Dempster Brown. They have also called for a full investigation into alleged acts of impropriety and corruption by Chairperson Brown.

In a press statement issued over the weekend in Monrovia, the majority of INCHR commissioners stated that Chairperson Brown’s accusations are intended to disrupt and distort public attention from ongoing investigations into his alleged misconduct. These include corruption, violations of laws, nepotism, and abuse of power.

The commissioners informed the public that the ongoing probe into INCHR’s affairs, authorized by the Executive through its legal advisor, is supported by the INCHR Act. Article XX, Paragraph 1 states: “All organs of State shall afford the Commission such assistance as may be reasonably required for the protection of the independence, impartiality and dignity of the Commission.”

The commissioners accused Chairperson Brown of misrepresenting Article XX, Paragraph 2 of the INCHR Act, which states: “No organ of State and no member or employee of an organ of State nor any other person shall interfere with, hinder or obstruct the Commission, any Commissioner or the employee thereof in the exercise or performance of its, his or her powers, duties and functions.” They emphasized that the probe into the leadership crisis and alleged corruption does not constitute interference or obstruction.

Further, the commissioners highlighted other provisions of the INCHR Act that support the ongoing investigation. Article XX, Paragraph 5 states: “All communications of the Commission to the Government shall be channeled through the Office of the President to ensure its urgent attention on the matters of the Commission’s interest.” They recalled that a formal complaint was submitted to the Office of the President on April 22, 2024, prompting the Legal Advisor to investigate.

A three-man Special Investigative Committee, appointed by the Legal Advisor, began the investigation. The commissioners also noted that in 2023, the Senate Committee on Judiciary conducted a public hearing into the leadership crisis at the INCHR, during which Chairperson Brown showed disrespect. Mediation efforts by the former Attorney General Cllr. Musa Dean and the UN Office on Human Rights in July 2022, and subsequent advice from former President George M. Weah, were ignored by Chairperson Brown.

The majority of commissioners assert that the Executive’s investigation is legal under the Liberian Constitution, specifically Article 20(a), which guarantees due process. They also cited Article IX of the Commission’s act, giving the President the power to appoint and remove commissioners, and Articles 54 and 56 of the Constitution of Liberia, which justify the investigation by the Executive Mansion through the Legal Advisor.

The commissioners maintained that in view of these laws and facts, the INCHR can coordinate with other government entities to protect human rights and ensure transparent operations. They described the ongoing investigation as welcome and committed to fully cooperating with the Special Investigative Committee.

The press statement was signed by Commissioners Dr. Cllr. Niveda Ricks Onuoha, Atty. Patmillia Doe-Paivey, Atty. Mohammed E. Fahnbulleh, and Mr. Pindarous W.T. Allison.

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