LIBERIA: ERU Officers Gang Rape Woman

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Western Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Three officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police have reportedly ganged raped a 23-year-old woman in Yekepa, Nimba County.

The ERU officers had earlier offered the victim a lift in their car, but while on the Yekepa-Sanniquellie highway, they stopped and held the victim at gunpoint before raping her, the Ministry of Gender Child Welfare Office in Nimba has reported.

The three officers are said to be going about their normal duties in the county despite the incident, and the ringleader of the act has been identified as ERU officer Harvey Swen. The Ministry of Gender & Development Child Welfare Officer in Nimba, Brown W. Duomentor, said the ERU officers, who were heavily armed, committed the act on April 4, 2013.

Reports say since the victim reported the case to the police in Sanniquellie a month ago, there has been no outcome of the investigation. Gender Officer Brown W. Duomentor has expressed serious disappointment in the manner in which the case was being handled by police in the county.

Duomentor noted that up to now, the police have not revealed the outcome of the investigation to anyone since the incident, adding "One of the cases that was really played with in this county is the 23-year-old girl that was ganged raped by some ERU Officers in Yekepa, and up to now there is no head; no tail on how the police handled it; we need to do something."

Meanwhile, a senior officer at the Sanniquellie Police Station, who refused to speak on tape, has confirmed that some ERU officers have been accused by a lady for rape. Officer Rufus Kortee however denied that the ERU officers did the act. According to him, the victim is abnormal and she was lying.

Mr. Kortee narrated that the police gave a lift to the victim from Yekepa when she allegedly stole Officer Harvey Swen's cell phone and was on the run for days. He said after few days, she was arrested by the police in Yekepa and detained, adding that while the lady was in police cell, her family appealed to the police to sign for her release because she was ill.

"As soon as she was signed for, she came to the Sanniquellie Women and Children Police office to complain that she was raped by ERU officers," Kortee defended.

But the senior sister of the victim terms the Sanniquellie deputy police chief's account as false and misleading, and only intended to protect those ERU officers accused. Speaking to The NewDawn via mobile phone from Saclapea, Nimba County, she said her sister (victim) is not abnormal as claimed by the police.

"My sister is very sound and she knows what she's saying; no one should lie that she was not raped," said the victim's sister. Liberia's Attorney-General, Justice Minister Christina Tah recently declared that any police officer caught in the act of rape should be disrobed and prosecuted.

Launching an anti-rape campaign recently in Monrovia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf urged Liberians to prioritize prevention, which she described as the most effective tool for parents, relatives, communities, judicial and traditional leaders in stamping out the practice from the society.

"Keep your eyes open for your children in the community. Take responsibility for children in the streets. When you see them hanging around video parlors, please get out and encourage them to go home," the President urged.