The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, has branded Liberia as “a paradise of democracy where everyone has the right to speak freely.”
The Information Minister was rejecting comments from former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Chairman, Jerome Verdier. that Liberia is a “gangster paradise.”
Verdier, who is Executive Director of the International Justice Group (IJG), recently issued a statement in which he alleged that the culture of impunity has emboldened “criminals” in government and in the corridors of power to new heights of violence and crime.
But, speaking at the MICAT regular press briefing in Monrovia last Thursday, Nagbe said it is unfair for the former TRC official to describe Liberia as such, knowing the new level of freedom and tolerance that is been given to every Liberian to express their mind freely without being punished like in the past.
The MICAT boss thinks that Verdier’s comments are “unpatriotic,” citing that his motives are selfish and that he is not in the interest of the nation.
Nagbe said it was a crime by law to insult any public leader, but this government has exhibited high level of tolerance relative to free speech as evidenced by the passage of the Kamara Abdullai Kamara (KAK) Act of Press Freedom which decriminalizes speech offenses.
He noted that the government of President George Weah has attached seriousness to citizen’s freedom, indicating that it has maintained all components of democracy to the point where people insult the presidency and go with impunity.
According to Minister Nagbe, the protection of democracy is not only the sole responsibility of the government but also the opposition and the people, adding that “for democracy to be strong the losers should respect the will of the people.”
Nagbe emphasized that in order to consolidate democracy the will of the people must be upheld and as such the administration of President Weah will continue to preserve the nation’s democracy to the fullest.
“You can criticize the government because we are in a democratic state, but not to damage the image of the country,” Nagbe stressed.