Liberia ALERT: Police flog information officer

A group of police officers, acting on the orders of Police Director Chris Massaquoi, flogged Bernard Warity, Deputy Information Minister for Administration in the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), headed by Charles Gyude Bryant. Warity sustained bruises on his body and was treated at theSt. JosephCatholicHospitalinMonrovia, the capital. Speaking to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)-Liberiafrom his hospital bed, Warity explained that the incident occurred at 6:00pm when he was returning from watching a world cup qualifying soccer match between Liberia and Togo.

The police director was also returning from the match when his Toyotajeep allegedly ran into Warity’s car. According to Warity, Mr Massaquoi alighted from his vehicle and ordered his bodyguards to drag and flog him. He claimed that the police director refused to recognize him despite his vehement petitions and desperate attempts to identify himself as a government official. Warity and Massaquoi are both Civil Society representatives on the power-sharing transitional government. Warity is one of two nominees of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) serving on the NTGL. He was a reporter with the privately owned Star Radio until March 15, 2000, when the dreaded detachment of the national police under Charles Taylor, the Special Operation Division (SOD), raided the premises of the station, scrambled its transmission signals and seized its equipment for allegedly “being agents of people bent on creating security problems in Liberia.” Although the Catholic Church-owned Radio Veritas, which was also shut down the same day, was subsequently allowed to resume broadcasting, Star Radio is yet to come back on air.

The MFWA condemns this manifestation of the vestiges of impunity as was perpetrated under Mr Taylor and calls on the government of President Gyude Bryant to institute a full-scale investigation and sanctioning of Warity’s assailants.

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