Criminal Justice Support Group for West Africa Warns Incoming Government Against Nominating Individuals with Negative Human Rights and Criminal Records

The Criminal Justice Support Foundation for West Africa, in collaboration with esteemed partners such as the Civil Society Working Group on Security Sector Reform and Governance (comprising the Liberia National Law Enforcement Association, Community Watch Forum of Liberia, Center for Justice and Peace Studies, Citizens Initiative for Dialogue, Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia – WONGOSOL, Criminal Justice Association of Liberia, Rural Human Rights Activist Programme, Federation of Liberian Youths, Prison Fellowship Liberia, and the National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia), has issued a warning to guide the incoming administration in scrutinizing nominees for security sector positions.

As the new administration prepares to take office, group leader Cecil Griffiths conveyed on Wednesday that it is crucial to shed light on key focus areas requiring immediate attention and action.

According to Griffiths, the Liberian Senate should diligently vet all nominees for security executive positions to ensure alignment with agency laws and regulations. Nominees should not have human rights violations, criminal records, or corrupt tendencies, thereby enhancing operational effectiveness and public trust.

Quoting the Liberia National Police Act of 2015, Section 22.76, Griffiths emphasized, “The Inspector General and Deputy Inspector Generals shall be a person(s) of proven integrity, high moral standards, and undisputed competence in matters relating to the security sector, and a graduate from a recognized university with at least a bachelor’s degree.”

Addressing the appointment of Deputy Inspector Generals, Section 22.79 specifies that individuals must be current police officers with proven capacities in police administration, operations, and training. Griffiths urged the appointing authority to seek legal advice on this provision, emphasizing that until it is amended, only current police officers are eligible for such appointments.

He scolded the Ruling Party, urging it to discourage police and law enforcement officers from lobbying for appointments.

Simultaneously, Griffiths highlighted the evolution of the country’s security landscape, advocating for the review, update, and approval of a comprehensive National Security Strategy to address current challenges and future threats.

Griffiths underscored the need for the National Bureau of Corrections to attain semi-autonomous status. He urged the incoming government to pass an Act empowering the Bureau to meet international standards regarding the segregation of prisoners and to improve service delivery.

Expressing concern about the growing role of private security companies, Griffiths emphasized the necessity of regulatory oversight to ensure professionalism, accountability, and adherence to human rights standards.

He stressed the importance of gender mainstreaming and equality in security institutions, urging the Ruling Party to nominate at least 30 percent females to security executive positions for diversity and inclusion.

Griffiths called for accountability of the Police and Immigration Services to the public, urging full funding and support for the Liberia National Police and Liberia Immigration Service Civilian Complaints Review Board. He lamented the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning’s failure to allocate a budget for the Board’s operations over the past five years.

Additionally, Griffiths called for the restructuring of Liberia’s security institutions, expressing concern that only the Liberia National Police and the Armed Forces of Liberia have undergone restructuring.

He informed the public about the group’s ongoing follow-up on an investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission concerning alleged corruption at the Executive Protection Service. Griffiths expressed hope for the retrieval of funds and justice for those responsible.

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