LAGOS, Nigeria – It appears things are becoming worse in Liberia for activists and human rights crusaders who are holding their government accountable for what they referred to as “bad governance, corruption and creeping dictatorship.” From firing family members of opposition figures, arresting relatives of advocates and activists on bogus charges to denying travel documents to perceived individuals the government considered as ‘enemies’ of the state, lawyers for opposition group also say the government is illegally detaining student leaders and harassing some prominent opposition personalities.
Martin Kollie, a known Liberian student activist has accused the Liberian government of not only intimidating him but is denying him access to travel for international engagements. According to Kollie, the government refused to grant him a Liberian passport and driver’s license. Apart from Kollie’s assertion, prominent opposition voice Darius Dillon has also complained that the government refused to issue him a Liberian passport.
Below is a communication from Martin Kollie addressed to the country’s passport office.
Martin K. N. Kollie
Youth and Student Activist
University of Liberia
Capitol Hill Campus
June 10, 2019
Mr. Andrew D. Wonploe, Sr.
Director of Passport and Visas
Division of Passport and Visas
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, R.L.
Dear Director Wonploe, Sr.:
Compliments in diversity and unity for an equal, just, and a prosperous Republic for all.
About 3 weeks ago specifically May 22, 2019, I applied as a Liberian citizen by birth to renew my passport by following all legal procedures and principles so required by Law (Ref: Article II – General Requirements for The Application of Liberian Passports).
Instead of paying US$50 as Regular Passport Service Fee which takes up to a Week before receiving my passport, I even paid US$100 as MFA-Expedited Passport Service Fee which should had actually guaranteed me receipt of my passport in 24 hours after legally completing all requirements including online application, verification, payment of passport fee, physical interview, biometric process (capturing of photo and finger print), etc.
I was issued an official receipt with these basic info: (Receipt No: 655842; BPS No: 229805; Tax Code: 142104-MFA; and Workstation Code: LRAMOFA). On this receipt, I was instructed to collect my renewed passport on May 22, 2019 by 4pm. I made every effort on this day to receive my passport but to no avail.
I returned on May 23rd and 24th to collect my passport and I was reliably informed by an anonymous source that my passport was placed ‘on hold’ and taken to your office (The Director of Passport and Visas) based on instructions from higher-ups. I visited MFA for more than a week to obtain my passport but to no avail. No justifiable reason whatsoever has been given even up to now as to why my new passport is being ceased or withheld even though my old passport which would had expired September 30, 2019 was cancelled on March 22, 2019.
Authoritative sources closed to MFA especially the Division of Passport and Visas have dependably informed me that my new passport was ceased due to these reasons:
- My full and active participation as one of the leaders of the recent Save The State Protest under the Council of Patriots
- My continuous criticism of the Weah-led administration as a student and youth activist who led the Bring Back Our Money Protest in September 2018.
- The government had thought that I was applying to renew my passport in order to create chaos/crisis on June 7 and escape. Now June 7 is over and was peaceful, why haven’t I received my passport thought efforts have been made?
Director Wonploe, I thought to raise these legitimate concerns because my rights as a citizens are being threatened and violated by such course of action. To deprive me of a passport ‘on purpose’ is an infringement of my fundamental rights and such precedent grossly violates these basic laws and statutes and I hope you are cognizant of this:
- Article 13 of The 1986 Constitution (Freedom of Movement)
- Article 1 and 2 of Liberia Passport Regulation (Right to obtain a Liberian Passport)
- 1973 Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia (Right as a Liberian Citizen by birth).
It is important for me to also inform you that I have missed out on an International Conference in Accra, Ghana on June 10, 2019 due to my passport being unjustifiably withheld by your office even though I have met all requirements to obtaining it. Again, it seems like I would miss out on another regional program (youth conference) to be held this coming Friday in Yaoundé, Cameroon. This has even provoked me as a citizen to raise these pertinent concerns.
Additionally, it will interest you to know that I was also denied a driver’s license on April 16, 2019 by the Ministry of Transport due to similar reason (my critical nature or position against the government. And this continuous violation of my rights is becoming habitual. I don’t think it is a crime to objectively speak out against prevailing ills in our society, patriotically disagree with a ruling establishment, and fearlessly stand in defense of the Liberian people as an activist. In my opinion, I am being viciously and wrongfully targeted, repressed, harassed, victimized and denied my rights for reasons yet to be justified.
With optimism, I remain hopeful of hearing from you in this regard as soon as possible. Beyond this end, let democracy flourish.
Martin K. N. Kollie
Youth and Student Activist
Phone #: (+231) 776-572-334 and 886750556
Cc: My Lawyers (Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, Cllr. Jallah A. Barbu (Dr.), Cllr. Samuel Kofi Woods and Cllr. Lavalla Supuwood
Cc: The Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Minister of Justice and The Commissioner General of Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN)
Cc: US Embassy near Monrovia, United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, European Union, British Embassy, Swedish Embassy and French Embassy
Cc: Liberian Council of Churches (LCC), National Muslim Council (NMC) and Traditional Council of Liberia (TCL)