As June 7 Protesters Vow To Carryout Planned Protest, Justice Ministry Questions Its Legality

Liberia’s Minister of Justice, Frank Musa Dean

As the much publicize June 7 planned protest is underway, the Ministry of Justice say it is requesting masterminds of the of the organizers of this “peaceful assembly” to provide documentations establishing the legal status of “The Council of Patriots” that intends to stage a protest.

The Ministry says it wants to understand whether the group is an entity duly incorporated or an unincorporated association, in line with the Association Law of Liberia.

The law requires that every corporation shall have a president, secretary and treasurer, who shall be appointed by the board or in the manner directed by the articles of incorporation or their by-laws or as the board may determine desirable or necessary to carry on the business of the incorporation, the Justice ministry said in a statement released on Wednesday.

In a communication dated April 24, sent to the Ministry of Justice by the group, and signed by its advisors and members – Senators Oscar Cooper and Sando Johnson, and Representative Yekeh Kolubah et al., the Ministry was approached to cooperate with “the council of patriots” and provide security for the assembly during which the group has planned to present written petitions to the President of Liberia and leaders of the Legislature.

But the Ministry is seemingly not sure about the legality of the group, and reminded its advisors and members of Section 41.2 of the Association Law which further states that “every unincorporated association, after its organization, shall execute a certificate signed and sworn to be its president and treasurer, stating the name of the incorporated association; date of its organization; number of its members; name and place of residence of its officers; and description of the purpose of its organization.

The certificate is filed in the office of the Registrar of Deeds of the county in which the principal office of such unincorporated association is located; and that members of an incorporated corporation shall be held personally liable for the satisfaction of judgment against the said unincorporated association, growing out of a tortuous out of occurrence, the ministry further cited the law.

In their letter, the group failed to mention its hierarchical structure apart from signatures of advisors and members, including opposition lawmakers.

Consequently, however, the Ministry of Justice made it known that advisors and members do not qualify as officers for the purpose of representing a corporation or an unincorporated association.

“Therefore, to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law, the request should be made by and through the statutory officer(s) of ‘the council of patriots’ after having provided documentation to the MOJ that the said organization is duly constituted and existent under the laws of the Republic of Liberia.

“Alternatively, you may elect to submit in your individual names as a group of citizens,” the Ministry’s statement continued.

The masterminds of the assembly had said their action may “last for days several days in Monrovia,” but the Ministry of Justice insists it is under legal obligation to deal with institutions or association registered and existing under the laws of Liberia.

Article 17 of the 1986 Liberia Constitution provides that: “All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceful manner shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade union and other organizations.”

But the law also provides that all such groups or individuals so duly constituted shall seek and obtain permission from the Ministry of Justice to hold a protest, demonstration or march in the public domain.

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