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Chief Justice Johnny Lewis Ordered Force Against Protestors

The Chief Justice of Liberia, Johnny Lewis yesterday ordered security of the Supreme  Court  to use force and clear the premise of the Temple of Justice of protestors who  had gathered  there with placards in protest of the infringement of free speech and  the free press. The protestors gathered at the Temple of Justice protesting against the Supreme Court

Protestors manhandled, Chief Justice  looks on

for holding the publisher and Editor  of FrontpageAfrica  newspaper and online outlet, Rodney Sieh in contempt  for publishing an opinion written by  a writer   critical of one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Gladys Johnson accusing her of biasness in the high-profile rape  and murder case against Hans Williams and his wife .

The Supreme Court of Liberia has charged the FrontpageAfrica Editor with contempt for the writer’s published opinion. Justice Johnson and the Supreme Court argued the Editor should had verified the allegation the writer levied against Justice Johnson before publishing his opinion.

Editor Rodney Sieh  appeared before the Supreme  Court yesterday to face his charges, which prompted protestors  to gather  at the court’s  grounds in support  of him  and to peacefully express their unhappiness with  the suppression of  free speech and  the free press guaranteed under the Liberian constitution.

According  to news reports from  Liberian media giving eyewitness account , protestors were peacefully protesting on  the premise of the Supreme Court with their placards in support of  Editor Sieh and their  unhappiness with  the court’s infringement of  free speech and free press when Chief Justice Johnny Lewis arrived on the grounds of the court,  got out of his car, and asked “what are these people doing here”? The Chief Justice immediately ordered security of the Supreme Court to use force and  clear the court grounds of the protestors. We were peacefully demonstrating, just holding our placards and this is not unusual for such activities on the premise of the Temple of Justice, it happens here on a regular basis , people come here to protest cases and other infringements, a protestor said.  Fighting  broke out between security of the Supreme  Court and protestors when they began to forcefully remove  the protestors on orders of the Chief Justice with many protestors sustaining injuries at the hands of the Supreme Court security.

What is obtaining in Liberia is troubling for the future of democracy and the health of the nation, that the Chief Justice of a country, one who is the custodian of the trust of final arbiter of the nation’s judiciary can engage in summary and extra judicial proceedings and brutality against the governed  who are the owners of the public trust he was appointed to serve. What is unfolding in Liberia deserves the immediate attention of all Liberians  and especially the National Legislature of Liberia.

It is about time that the Legislature summons  Chief Justice Lewise’ court   for questioning to put a break on what has become the unprofessional and constant appetite to infringe upon the very laws they were appointed  to preserve and interpret. Chief Justice Lewise actions call into question the temperament of his court ability to respond and address the complexity, sophistication of the psychic of the Liberian nation, growth of intellect and the change the country and the world had experienced, completely different from the world the Chief Justice knew when he was studying and practising law. He  needs to adopt to the change  of the new world order and the transformation and sophistication the country has undergone. The Supreme Court contempt charge against the Editor of FrontpageAfrica is yet another   attempt to suppress the press into submission, the instrument of  power is being consistently misused to muscle press freedom  and free speech since the new democratic government of Africa’s first female President catapulted on the world stage.

The President herself has joined the fray, she will be going to court this November term of court against the publisher of the Broom newspaper, whom she is suing for $5 million for publishing a story accusing her of receiving bribes. The Editor of the Agenda newspaper,  Cyrenus Cephas, sometime last year was thrown into prison for publishing a story  accusing the Liberian government of being involved in the Guinean crisis. He accused the government of torturing  him while in prison at the National Security Agency  (NSA)headed by the Presided’s step so, Fumba Sirleaf.

The Liberian press is experiencing unprecedented suppression, prosecution, brutality, and coercion with the intent to suppress it into submission not differential of the Doe and Taylor repressive despotic regimes though the press , Liberian people and the lager international community thought the country has finally found democracy at last after paying high price costing the destruction of the country and  lost of about three hundred thousand lives of their fellow countrymen in a senseless civil war.


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