Journalist Philipbert Brown was jailed for reporting that Representative Prince Moye of Bong County, District #2, allegedly raped a then-12-year old girl
By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
Publisher Philipbert Brown of the Hot Pepper newspaper in Monrovia is another Liberian journalist who was jailed recently for ‘libel’ by the Civil Law Court, after journalist Festus Poquie of the New Democrat newspaper was also jailed for republishing a story about the President of Equitorial Guinea.
Like Mr. Poquie whose New Democrat newspaper published a story about alleged cannibalism by the President of Equitorial Guinea, Mr. Brown was also jailed after his Hot Pepper newspaper published a story from the guardians of a 14-year old girl who accused Bong County District #2 Representative Prince Moye of raping their then 12-year daughter in 2014.
Instead of setting aside his prejudice to fully hear this extremely grievous offense filed by the family of the traumatized child who was allegedly violated by this powerful adult, Judge Yusiff D. Kaba immediately slammed libel charges against journalist Brown, for exposing what seems to be a crime against a minor.
Remember, this is Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Liberia, a lawless society where there is no justice and accountability – a country where the politically powerful and connected can get away with murder, corruption and even rape.
Because in a truly democratic country where there is oversight and accountability, Judge Yusiff D. Kaba would be investigated by his peers for insensitivity, recklessness and incompetence, possible corruption, and probably would be disbar and locked up for dereliction of duty.
For his ‘crime’ against the plaintiff for the publication of a worthy news story, Mr. Brown was thrown in prison for failure to post bail and “pay damages to plaintiff in an amount of no less than US $5million.”
Where in Liberia can anyone, let alone a poor, struggling and underpaid journalist find such exorbitant amount?
A Writ of Summons from the court also ordered the arrest of Alfred G. Togbah, Publisher of the People’s Newspaper, Jah H. Johnson of the Hot Pepper Newspaper and Windell McIntoch of Margibi County. The Writ of Summons directed the individuals to be thrown in jail “should they also fail to post bail or show property (ies) to cover the plaintiff’s damages.”
Damages that a journalist reported to the world that a rusty old man raped a 12-year old girl?
According to Representative Prince Moye’s counter complaint that he filed prior to the publication of the story that he allegedly raped the little girl, Moye claimed that he was blackmailed by text messages from Philipbert Brown, Alfred Togbah and Jah H. Johnson, extorting money from him so that the journalists will not carry the story.
Amid the counter complaint from the court and the plaintiff, I did not find anywhere in the story where Judge Kaba ever dealt with the bombshell complaint of alleged rape that was perpetrated against the then-12-year old little girl.
Again, where is justice? And this cannot continue to happen in Liberia.
Can a man just rape a little girl or a woman and get away with the crime because he is a powerful political figure?
Where are the activists and the 2017 presidential candidates? Any comments from the presidential candidates and their supporters, yet?
This is exactly some of the reasons why I am always hard on our painfully reticent Liberian politicians and presidential candidates.
They are a laughable bunch whose eyes are set only on the Liberian presidency, even when Liberian journalists are put in jail for doing their job, and rusty old men rape little girls.
Again, this is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Liberia.
Can Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the nation’s first female democratically elected president fight to protect Liberian girls, and protect Liberian journalists?
I am waiting anxiously to see the day.