Joint Statement of the Ambassadors and Chargés d’Affaires a.i. of the United States, the European Union, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in relation to the Council of Patriots’ (COP) planned demonstration in Monrovia on 30 December
In a 24 December broadcast on Facebook Live, Mr. Henry Costa, Chairman of the COP, used inflammatory language, implying that some of his supporters would be armed, and threatening under various circumstances to use deadly force. In light of his comments, we call on Mr. Costa to clarify in a public statement that he intends his protest to be peaceful and compliant with Liberian law.
In order for the Government of Liberia to take all necessary measures to allow protesters to exercise their constitutional rights of free speech, assembly, and petition, and at the same time to preserve public order and safety, we further urge the COP to share with the Ministry of Justice all required details regarding its plans for the proposed demonstration. Constitutional rights must be exercised responsibly, in conformity with relevant provisions of law, without jeopardizing the peace, security, and stability of Liberia. We understand the Liberian Government has made proposals regarding demonstration venues, and we urge the COP expeditiously to supply logistical information necessary for issuance of appropriate permits.
Responsible rhetoric and peaceful protests can help foster a culture of productive discourse and build on Liberia’s democratic gains. In light of Liberia’s history, public incitement to violence cannot be ignored.