MONROVIA, Montserrado â€“ A group of childrenâ€™s rights activists have led a memorial march in Monrovia calling for justice in the death of Alvin Moses and Ruben Paye.
More than 100 youth under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee on Children peacefully marched through the streets of Monrovia, from the YMCA headquarters on Broad Street to the Liberia National Police head office on Capitol Bypass. They were seen carrying placards and chanting slogans.
The march was followed by the official presentation of JACCâ€™s position statement regarding the case involving the two minors.
Ruben and Alvin were found dead on December 3 last year in a vehicle belonging to a neighbor, Henry Nandi, after they had been missing for a day. Activists and parents contend that a proper investigation into their deathÂ was never done.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Abraham Keita, the famed 2015 winner of the global children peace prize, said the groupâ€™s action was not a one-day exercise but it would continue until the government does the right thing.
Keita said their move was in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Liberian Children Law which guarantee the rights of children.
â€œToday, we are acting within the confines of international laws,â€ he said. â€œWe are acting within the confines of the Liberia Childrenâ€™s Law, a law that was signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.â€
He said the case has claimed the attention of international partners seeking the welfare of children.
â€œWe want to remind you that our international partners are involved and this is not a dayâ€™s event,â€ Keita added. â€œIt will continue on and on in as much as the children of Liberia, Alvin and Moses are crying in their graves, yearning for justice and yet justice has not come.â€
He continued: â€œWe hope that this will mark the beginning of ending violence against children, so that we too will be able to sit down at the dinner of equality with every other nation and knock our chest and rub our shoulders and say, yes we have come to a point where every child is living peacefully and happily.â€
JACC is also demanding that the Liberia National Police publicly disclose the present conditions and location of the bodies of the children and provide a reason why they have not been buried.
In a six-count petition presented to the police, JACC also called for the government to establish an independent team of human rights investigators to independently establish the cause of death of the two children through an autopsy.
The committee is at the same time demanding that the LNP send the perpetrator to court, although the group appears to be aiming for Henry Nandi, the owner of the vehicle in which the lifeless bodies of the children were found.
JACC concluded its demand by calling for a public apology from police spokesperson, Sam Collins, for terming their advocacy as â€œentertaining.â€
Nelson Freeman, the commissioner of police for operations, received the petition on behalf of the LNP and assured JACC that the police considers their demands important.
â€œI am very sure that in the soonest, you would be called for a conference,â€ Freeman said. â€œWhatever that needs to be discussed will be discussed with you and it will be known to the Liberian people that we attached seriousness to this issue and we will assure you to do all in our powers to bring the perpetrators to justice if there are any.â€
Freeman expressed solidarity with the group and said the LNP was committed to providing equal access to protection for all.
â€œWe are your parents, we are your grandparents,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™ve got kids and I am not going to be happy to go home and see Saybah and Korpo are not home and I canâ€™t find them.â€
He promised that the police will prove itself beyond reproach and assured the children that the police is capable of handling the security of the state.
However, Satta Sheriff, the speaker of the Liberia National Childrenâ€™s Representative Forum, viewed the commissionerâ€™s comments with skepticism, as she considered it an attempt to pay lip service to the demonstrators without future actions.
â€œWe will feel happier if the case of Alvin Moses and Ruben Paye is reopened and that [an] autopsy is conducted, and when we will be in court waiting for justice to be dispensed,â€ Sheriff said.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah