LIBERIA: Senators Differ Over Colleague’s Curfew Proposal

Members of the Liberian Senate have been debating a proposal from Lofa County Senator George Tengbeh to plenary to prevail on the President of Liberia to lift the curfew.

In a communication, Senator Tengbe observed that even though the curfew has achieved the desired results, it is now making little impact in curbing the Ebola virus disease.

Commenting further he said some households are finding it difficult to take emergency cases like pregnant women and sick children to health facilities in the midst of the curfew.

Speaking at the Ebola emergency sitting of the Senate on Tuesday, September 23, Tengbeh indicated that since the imposition of the curfew, the crime rate, including armed robbery, has increased dramatically.

According to him, prior to the curfew, there were community watch teams in most communities aiding the police in curtailing criminal activities in those areas, noting that the present curfew has made these watch teams become dormant.  

Following the reading of the communication, Senators Cletus Wotorson of Grand Kru and Henry Yallah of Bong County opposed this motion on grounds that it would be counterproductive to lift the curfew when the condition leading to its imposition still exists.

They stressed the need for continuation of the 11:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew in order to limit behavioral patterns like overcrowding and socializing that have the tendency to spread the Ebola virus.

The Senators added that lifting the embargo might create a false sense of security and optimism in the general population, who could then become more vulnerable to infections of the disease.

Also opposing the the communication dated September 12, Grand Gedeh County Senator Isaac Nyenabo said it is an ardent right of the plenary to modify the imposition of the curfew, but they must ascertain through analysis whether there are clear progressions in the Ebola crisis before coming up with such decision.

After heated debate on the issue, the communication was sent to the defense and judiciary committee to report to the plenary in one week on the status of the curfew and state of security affairs since the embargo.

On September 8, 2014, the President of Liberia adjusted the curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am, to 11:00 pm to 6:00 am for “some success stories and advice” from authorities of the Ministry of Health as well as consultations with local and international partners involved in the fight against Ebola.

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