The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Missing Diamond Protesters Brutalized

By Bill W. Cooper
On June 1, 2023, a group of protesters who gathered at the home of President George Weah to demand answers for the whereabouts of a 53.3 carat diamond worth US$2.7m were allegedly beaten and arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Monrovia.

There has been an ongoing controversy over the 53.3 carat diamond found in mining creek in Henry’s Town, Gbarpolu County in which Assistant Minister of Mines at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Emmanuel Swen was accused for allegedly swaying the investigation for person of interest.

Minister Swen has been consistently accused by stakeholders of Henry Town including officers of the county diamond broker sector of being in cohort with another party in the controversial ownership of a US$2.7 million worth allegedly intended to be smuggled out of Liberia to Italy.

In his defense, Minister Swen said clarified that following the discovery of the diamond, he commenced an investigation with both parties to establish legitimacy over the ownership of the mineral.

He added, “My ruling was fair and unbiased, I handed down my verdict because the opposing party didn’t show enough proof to substantiate that they were the legitimate owners of the diamond as such, I ruled that the real owners of the diamond was Junior,” he said.

Contrary to the minister’s assertion, the protesters claimed that the 53.3 carat diamond got missing from a mine in Gbapolu County, and accused Minister Swen including other local authority of colluding with the criminals to snip the diamond which they believe could be used to help develop the county.

This, they averred triggered their decision to protest before the home of the President Weah for his prompt intervention to demand the necessary authorities to investigate the matter and bring those responsible to justice.

However, instead of addressing the protesters’ concerns, the police officers responded with force, thus beating and injuring many of the protesters who were seen holding placards.

According to our reporter, the police used batons and rotten as well as handcuffed to beat on the protesters after which many of them were arrested and taken into police custody.

Our reporter says that some residents of the community have described the incident as police brutality and are calling on the justice Ministry to investigate the unprofessional action of the police against peaceful protesters.

They want Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue to take action to protect the rights of citizens, as well as called for an independent investigation into the matter, and for those responsible for the violence to be held accountable.

They added, “Even though we are aware that this government will as usual condemn the incident and promised to investigate the matter, it still remains to be seen whether any action will be taken against the police officers responsible.”

The brutality against peaceful protesters coming at the time Liberians are poised to go to a crucial election in October to elect a new President, 73 Representative’s and 30 Senators to steer the affairs of the country for the next six years.

“The alleged missing diamond and the violent response against the protesters’ demands for answers are a reminder that the people of Liberia deserve better from their government and law enforcement agencies.

It is time for the government to take action to ensure deterrence on the part of law enforcement officers, especially the police,” an aggrieved residents asserted.

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