INCHR Commissioner Faces Police Probe For The Death Of Prince Welhju

The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) has ordered one of its Commissioners, Mr. Mohammed Fahnbulleh to submit himself to the Liberia National Police for investigation for his alleged link to the death of one Prince Welhju who reportedly died at a local police station in Monrovia after he was reportedly tortured by the accused.

In a statement delivered today, Monday, April 22, 2024 by the head of the Commission, Cllr. T. Dempster Brown said:

Distinguished Member of the Press,

The Commission on Monday followed up an incidence that occurred at the Salem Police Station in the Airfield areas involving the death of one Prince Welhju believe to be in his 30s.  I ordered the Director of Complaints, Monitoring and Investigation (DCIM) to visit the police station.  After the visit, I was informed by the Director and the team that on Friday, 12 April, Prince was taken to the Salem Police Station by Commissioner Mohammed Fahnbulleh, a Commissioner of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR). The Police Commander at the Station, Alfred Sudue informed the Director and team that on 12 April in the afternoon hours, Commissioner Fahnbulleh brought to the Police Station Prince WlehJu in the Commission’s Vehicle marked with plate number LB-3609 and inscription GSA-INCHR-02-5 . Commissioner Fahnbulleh informed the police that Prince Wehju received from him $200 USD to repair his vehicle but each time he made effort to get to get to him he couldn’t find him. Prince Wlehju was detained on Friday and on the morning of Saturday, April 13, the Police Commander said that Prince allegedly committed suicide.

The Director and team also visited the relatives of Prince Wlehju at their 18th Street residence and were able to talk to some family members.  The father of the deceased could not be reached physically rather through phone call. The sibling of the deceased, Edward  Wleju informed our team that  on Friday, April 12, his brother, Prince Wlehju was  apprehended and tortured by one ‘Shine’, a “Commander” of a gangster group around the 18 street beach area.  He said when Shine and his gangster group apprehended his brother; he was told that Prince had his client money and that he whom tortures him until the client comes.  Accordingly, Prince resisted Shine and his group and accordingly the client ordered them to beat and tortured him until he the client can come. Accordingly, the client who was seen in a human rights car came and picked up Prince. The deceased brother Edward said he attempted to resist his brother being carried but he could not. He narrated that his brother was taken to the police station by the client in the human rights car.  On the same Friday he went to the station to see his brother and he promised that he would get in touch with their family including their elder brother called Kelvin Wlehju in Paynesville to pay the money. He explained that they appealed to the client who was later identified as Commissioner Fahnbulleh from the human rights commission to make schedule for the payment but Commissioner Fahnbulleh refused to listen to them.

On Saturday, April 13, he explained that when he visited the police station in the morning hours he was surprised to learn from the police that his brother committed suicide.   He said when he visited his brother on Friday, 12 April he did not see any sign of sadness because they have agreed to look for the money. Besides, he said on Friday when he last saw his brother in the Police Cell, he didn’t see him wearing clothes and so he was surprised when his brother took shirt to commit suicide as explained by the police. The deceased brother said none of the family member has seen the body since he allegedly committed suicide.  He said when he reached the police station around 7 to 8 in the morning of 13 April he did not see his brother hanging up in the cell.

Other friends and relatives have given accounts that are similar to what the brother said. The father, even though was not on the scene due to illness, said he could not believe that his son could kill himself for owing someone money because Prince was a hardworking person.

All these testimonies were gathered. What has remained consistent is that the Commission’s vehicle was used to convey the deceased to the Police Station. Additionally, Commissioner Fahnbulleh did not get the police in arresting the Prince Wlehju instead  others who are considered gangster were used to carried out the arrest and torture of Prince  until he came to get him to the police station. The story of torture between the periods of the arrest and restraint of Prince Wlehju before Commissioner Fahnbulleh with the Commission’s Vehicle to take him away are   troubling.  Additionally, the circumstances concerning Prince Death at the police station where LNP Officers are on routine duty 24 hours is questionable. Besides, there were other detainees in the cell- about five who could not alarm even if the police were farway.

Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights provides that ‘[h]uman beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.’ Additionally,  it is provided that ‘States must take steps both to prevent arbitrary deprivations  of life and to conduct prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations into any such deprivations that may have occurred, holding those responsible to account and providing for an effective remedy and reparation for the victim or victims, including, where appropriate, their immediate family and dependents.’ The Commission holds these principles important no matter who is involved.  The responsibility to protect life for individual held in the custody of a state is higher because at that moment their rights are restraints.

Also, The Convention Against Torture obligates countries who have signed the treaty to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all circumstances.

In view of the above the Commission is calling on the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice to assure the bereaved family on every step leading to the investigation of a fair justice. Also, the Commission requests the Government to conduct an autopsy of the body of Prince Wlehju to ensure justice. The Commission believe it is a derelict of duty in the circumstance where someone died at the Police station where life is supposed to be protected.

Meanwhile, the Commission calls on the Ministry of Justice to promptly investigate the matter from the inception to the circumstances that resulted to the death of Prince Wlehju and to call to questioning all the actors involved from the arrest, detention and subsequent death of the Prince Wlehju.

The Commission will partner with civil society to monitor the investigation until the final conclusion is made to the case.

Thanks!

Signed: _______________________________________

Cllr. T. Dempster Brown, Chairperson

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