Liberian activist freed as sedition charges dropped
Although the Liberian constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression, significant restrictions on this right have recently been documented. Earlier this year, human rights activist Vandalark Patricks was arrested, detained and charged with sedition and criminal libel following a speech in which he called for accountability for the killings of human rights activists in Liberia. On 31st May, prosecutors dropped all charges against him.
People in Liberia enjoy good respect for their right to peaceful assembly, which they have recently used to advance causes and call for government action in number of areas. On 21st July, 200 parking attendants from the Monrovia City Cooperation (MCC) staged a protest, calling on President Sirleaf and the Liberian Legislature to immediately intervene in their plea to save their jobs following a subcontracting dispute with another company. Three days earlier on 18th July, over 50 students from the William Tubman Teacher’s College of the University of Liberia occupied the grounds of the Ministry of Education, demanding the resignation of Minister George Werner. They claim to have lost their monthly allowances and stipend since the Minister’s ascendancy into power. Meanwhile, employees of one of Liberia’s oldest business establishments, the Abi Jaoudi Enterprise, staged a protest over the abrupt conversion of their monthly salaries from United States Dollars (USD) to Liberian Dollars, allegedly without prior notice. Lastly, on 5th July several people with disabilities staged a peaceful demonstration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to solicit President Sirleaf’s help with their alleged abandonment by her regime. According to the Chairperson of the National Union of Organizations of the Disabled (NUOD), Naomi B. Harris, people with disabilities face complete isolation in Liberia and have not been given any part to play in the government.