By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
In the Liberian parlance, whenever the phrase, “FOR NOTHING” is used, it simply means that “nothing concrete” would come out of what is being done or said. Additionally, it means that there would be public outcry to a particular evil in the society and no steps would be taken to correct or act against those responsible.
For this, whenever there are such public outcry and a probes are instituted, there is always lack of confidence by the people as they believe that such calls for probe are mere charade or show only to conciliate public or calm the story or bitterness over such particular happenings, like in the case of the raping to death of the 12-year old child by a 40-year old man in Brewerville. The alleged rapist, Musa Kanneh, is said to be a former officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
Since the report of the death of the child and subsequent revelations by the minister of Gender Julia Duncan-Cassell that there were more than 500 alleged rape cases last year, there have been concerns and calls for a serious probe on circumstances relating to the death of the child but it is said that following the raping of the child, she was rejected by several medical centers.
To add insult to injury, it is alleged that a particular police checkpoint in Monrovia denied access to the vehicle taking the child to another medical center for treatment on grounds that it was curfew time and that in addition; the driver was driving with slippers, which the police reportedly said was a traffic violation. Despite repeated appeals to those at the checkpoint, the police insisted that the vehicle would not go, for reasons cited. It is said that it took about 20 minutes before the vehicle was allowed access. Furthermore, it is said that by the time the vehicle reached the hospital, the girl was pronounced dead.
It is based on these circumstances involving the police and the medical centers that refused to treat the child that precipitated the numerous public outcries on circumstances leading to the death. The situation became so profound that President Sirleaf even visited the home of the girl’s family in Moulton’s Corner, Brewerville, at which time she ordered the Justice and Health Ministries to launch a full-scale investigation into the reported negligence of some elements of the Liberia National Police and Health care facilities in the death of the 12-year old girl.
President Sirleaf over the weekend visited the parents of the little girl and condemned the act. She described the action by the rapist as wicked, inhumane, devilish and enemy to the security of women and children of Liberia. The Liberian leader threatened that any functionary of the Liberian Government found culpable of negligence in the death of the child would be punished under the fullest weight of the law. Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the deceased blamed Brewerville Police and the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town for negligence in handling the case prior to the death of the child.
Today my interest in this matter is the ordering of an investigation or probe by the President in some of the circumstances that led to the child’s death. I take interest because this is not the first time a probe has been ordered into such situation of public concern. Normally when such distasteful or obnoxious acts are committed, there are always clarion calls for probe, and then, nothing is heard about its outcome or action taken against those responsible.
This is why whenever such pronouncements or calls are made for probe or investigation, it is not taken seriously by the public because generally it is believed that this is only business as usual, as nothing would come out of those probes. In recent time, there are two cases that still fresh on the minds of the people in Monrovia.
The first one has to do with Shaki Kamara, the lad who was shot during the quarantine exercise in West Point, but was denied by some hospitals, for which he died as a result of profuse bleeding. Following the reports that the boy died because he did not get treatment from two medical centers, there was this usual institution of probe into the matter. Similarly, following reports of the death of Montserrado County Rep. Edward Forh’s daughter, NakitaForh, there was pronouncement for a probe into the circumstances and all that transpired at the hospital. To date, nothing has been heard about the outcome of these two separate probes.
It is against this backdrop that this latest call by President Sirleaf for an investigation into this matter is not taken seriously because of past experiences, as there had been no actions taken against the hospitals in the Shaki Kamara and NakitaForh’s situations. Will this latest one in which a child was raped to death make a difference? Will this particular case be different from previous ones? Will something concrete come out of this one? I ask these questions because the people are tired with hearing about probes or investigations and nothing is heard about their outcome.
For the hospital, I am surprises that they would continue to do this because their very OATH, known as “The Hippocratic Oath,” requires medical practitioners or physicians to uphold certain ethical standards as they move into the practice. The oath was later in the 1960’s changed to “utmost respect for human life from its beginning,” making human life paramount. With regard to healing the sick, a practitioner swore: “I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.” Considering this portion of the oath, it is disheartening to see hospitals or health practitioners refusing the sick and injured.
I believe that when actions are taken against institutions and individuals for negligence or failure to act properly, this would serve as deterrence to others. But to allow it to go without action, suggests a tacit approval for which action, and would therefore, open a floodgate for similar wicked acts.
The reason why deterrence, as one of the punishments in law is used is that it sends a signal to would-be perpetrators of such act. That is, it tells them that if they are involved in such act, the law would take its course, but if this is not done, then, there would be continuous perpetration of such act.
Until the government realizes that it MUST march words with action, the nation stands to face such wicked acts. As the “Grand Old” True Whig Party says, “DEEDS, NOT WORDS.” I Rest My Case.