Members of the Armed Forces of Liberia were trained on international standard, among which is the discipline on how to discern civilians’ targets and military targets on one hand, and how to deal with situations in which civilians or non-combatants are involved or trapped.
The Armed Forces of Liberia is referred to as “new AFL” because it replaced the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia that was considered indiscipline, tribally dominant, brutal, insensitive to civilians’ security and above all, unpatriotic.
And the coming of the so-called new Armed Forces of Liberia was celebrated because of its geographical composition, the professed discipline and all the good moral fiber it was hoped to exhibit as a new army.
Liberians borne before, during and after the civil war hoped the Armed Forces of Liberia would be the unfeigned one they have long anticipated—the army that serves the interest of the nation and the people—and the army that serves as the first line of defense against military aggression.
But Liberians were taken aback last week when a member of the Armed Forces of Liberia fatally shot a 15-year-old Shakie Kamara during riot at the Township of West Point. The young man suffered an agonizing pain for hours and bled to death shortly after he was taken to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town.
The Defense Minister Brownie Samukai quickly denied any shooting incident, and in fact, said there were no shootings at anytime, adding that Shakie Kamara must have sustained injuries from barb wire. This outright and blatant denial of the incident in which a youthful Liberian was shot in the leg and died of an agonizing pain took Liberians aback and made them furious thus making them to divert their respect and trust they had in the new army.
Nevertheless, while human rights advocates, child advocates and Liberians who believe in justice contemplate a demand for justice for the young victim, President Sirleaf called for an inquiry into the shooting that resulted in the death of Shakie Kamara.
According to reports, she asked the Ministry of Defense to conduct an investigation into the shooting and report to her in 10 days, but this does not go well with the leader of Children Parliament, a local child advocacy group, Abraham Keita.
Keita admonished the Government of Liberia not to “entrust the inquiry” to the Defense Ministry, adding that the inquiry would not be transparent. But the Minister of Information told a press conference, when incident involves a soldier, the military law takes its due course—this means the soldier should be tried by court martial.
Meanwhile, the shooter of late Shakie Kamara has been identified and is believed to have a history of violent behavior, the Front Page Africa, reported this week. He is First Class Private, Edwin Wah. If the report is confirmed by the Ministry of Defense, then the work of the board of inquiry set up by the President would be an uncomplicated one.
But what we don’t yet know is whether the board of inquiry’s report, if submitted to the president, would, if victim’s shooter is identified in the report, be turned over to military tribunal for prosecution.
In any case, human rights advocates, child advocates, justice loving Liberians, journalists and the Children Parliament should not fold their arms, because our system is a weak one that relaxes when no one is listening or acting. Let us demand for justice so that the shooter of late Shakie Kamara be identified and punished if found guilty. This should be the ultimate objective of all advocates. Liberian journalists should not let this case die; let’s continue to follow the case to the real end, not dead end.
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