Activists Plan March Seeking to Reopen Investigation into Children’s Deaths

PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – A group of children’s rights organizations has announced a peaceful march demanding that authorities reopen the investigation into the deaths of two minors, Alvin Moses and Ruben Paye.

The activists, under the banner of the Joint Action Committee on Children, made the announcement after the expiration of a four-day ultimatum given to the Ministry of Justice to resume a full-scale investigation into the children’s death.

Satta Sheriff, Speaker of the National Children Representative Forum, said they are working with children and parents from the 15 counties to stage the peaceful march on Monday, Nov. 21.

“We will go to the Liberia National Police and present our plight, saying what the children of Liberia want,” she said.

Alvin and Ruben were found dead on Dec. 3 last year in a Toyota Avalon belonging to a neighbor, Henry Nandi, after they had been missing for a day.

The situation led an angry crowd to burn the home and vehicles belonging to Nandi.

The Liberia National Police, immediately after the incident, launched an investigation and concluded that the children died of suffocation due to excess heat and lack of oxygen.

The police report sheet also cleared Nandi of involvement in the children’s death and later charged and sent to court several individuals alleged to be participating in the violence.

Since then, the boy’s remains have remained in the mortuary of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital as the parents have refused to bury the bodies in the absence of autopsies.

While condemning the violence that led to the destruction of Nandi’s properties, the JACC called on the government to unconditionally reopen the case and allow Nandi to exonerate himself through a court trial.

In a statement issued on Nov. 7, the JACC also condemned the police findings.

“We want to irrevocably condemn the LNP investigative report and term it as misleading from our investigation and observation on the kids’ bodies and the scene of the incident,” the statement read.

“It pains us and every child that since last year, the bodies are yet to be buried and no autopsy has been conducted. The innocent souls of little Alvin and Ruben have wept endlessly, craving the prosecution of their murderers… They deserve to rest! They too deserve to be respected through befitting burials!”

The organization called on the LNP to act responsibly and listen to the calls of the Liberian children: “Far too many children have been subjects of sexual violence ranging from rape to sodomy. In recent times, suspicious deaths among children have become frequent and often, justice is given a back kick. It now appears that injustice is the modus operandi of our justice and security system.”

The committee also added, “Many children, including 13-year-old Angel Togba, seven-year-old Olivia Zinnah, 15-year old Shakie Kamara, and 14-year-old Ma-Musu Fofana are dead and gone, but freely, are their perpetrators living without any form of remorse.”

The group said in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the right to life of many children has been violated in countless cases.

Sam Collins, the police spokesperson, told The Bush Chicken in a cellphone interview that the police met with members of the JACC on Nov. 12 to discuss the status of the case of the two children and the concern of the committee.

He, however, maintained that the LNP is satisfied with its investigation and there was no evidence to counter its findings. “From the police standpoint, we have investigated, we have done everything and the investigation is closed,” he said.

He said it is the parents who should bring in pathologists if they are in doubt of the police report. Collins also clarified that the bodies of the children were being properly preserved.

However, Satta said the government must take responsibility to commission an autopsy on the two children.

JACC is a conglomeration of child rights institutions and advocates including Abraham Keita, the 2015 International Children’s Peace Prize winner. The group is calling on major organizations working in the interest of children to join them in their advocacy.

Featured photo by UN Women

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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